Energy Savings and Pollution Prevention Benefits of Solar Heat Gain Standards in the International Energy Conservation Code

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The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), published by the International Code Council, the code development orgalization of building code officials, contains new provisions that save energy and reduce air pollution emissions. Its most significant new provision is a prescriptive standard for solar heat gain control in windows in wanner climate zones. Because solar heat gain through windows is one of the largest components of residential cooling loads, this standard reduces cooling loads dramatically, which in turn reduces electricity consumption, utility bills, and powerplant pollution emissions. It can also reduce the size of cooling equipment, a capital cost saving that can offset increased costs for the higher performance windows needed to meet the standard.

This paper documents the potential energy efficiency, dollar, and pollution reduction benefits of the IECCs solar heat gain standard. Using the RESFEN model developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, we simulated a typical new home in ten southern states that would be affected the new IECC solar heat gain standard. Our analysis found that in these ten states, adoption of the IECC in its first year could save 400 million kWh, $38 million in electric bills, and 233 MW of peak electricity generating capacity. The cumulative savings from these homes in year 20 would rise to 80 billion kwh, $7.6 billion in electricity bills, and 4,660 Megawatts of generating capacity. In year twenty, the electric energy savings would also prevent the emission of 20,000 tons of NOx and over 1.5 million tons of carbon equivalent.

Extrapolating the calculations in this paper to include other states with significant cooling load reduction from the IECC leads us to believe peak savings from new construction will total 300MW annually. Given that the window replacement and remodeling market is slightly larger than the new construction market (and here the baseline is poorer performing single glazing), leads to the conclusion that savings which include the remodeling and replacement market should exceed 600MW annually. This would eliminate the need to build two average sized 300MW power plants every year. Additional, similar savings could also be expected from applying this technology to windows in commercial buildings, although we have not accounted for these savings in these estimates.

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