|Building Code Changes, Water Heater SEER Ratings, HVAC Equipment SEER Ratings
The North Carolina Code making process is an ongoing process regardless of the adoption dates of the current NC Codes. The NC Building Code Council continually adopts changes to the Codes between code cycles that are not in the printed volumes of the various codes. As part of the Rulemaking process, the Council assigns effective dates for each code amendment which is the date that makes the change mandatory, and is enforceable by the code enforcement official. There are several changes to the NC Residential Code that will become effective January 1, 2015. Almost all of these changes will be beneficial to contractors, though the new span tables for Southern Yellow Pine will present some challenges.On June 1, 2013 new design values for Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) went into effect for all visually graded dimension lumber. These new values represent the findings of the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau’s (SPIB) recent destructive testing of full size specimens. The new values are anywhere between a 20 to 30 percent reduction in four design values. The new design values apply to all visually graded SYP lumber. The values affected are bending, tension parallel to grain, compression parallel to grain, and the modulus of elasticity. The NC Building Code Council has incorporated the new design values into span tables in the 2012 NC Residential Code effective January 1, 2015.
To review, download and/or print the amendments effective prior to or effective January 1, 2015 go to this link.
A list of Residential Code Changes with brief explanation of the changes can be reviewed here.
Water Heater SEER Ratings
On April 16, 2015, there will be significant updates to water heater energy factor (EF) requirements as the result of updates to the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA). These new requirements call for higher Energy Factor (EF) ratings on virtually all residential gas, electric, oil and tankless gas water heaters as well as certain light duty commercial models. The NAECA regulation effective date of April 16, 2015, applies only to the manufacture of water heaters. Manufacturers, distributors and contractors may continue to sell products manufactured prior to this date for an indefinite period of time.
It is important for contractors to understand that products manufactured before April 16, 2015, can be bought and installed after the changeover date. There will still be product available with the old technology.
If installing the products manufactured after April 16, 2015, residential and multi-family homebuilders will be impacted by the 2015 NAECA standards in several ways. First, new NAECA compliant water heaters (gas, electric and oil models) with capacities under 55 gallons will likely be larger, both in height by 1-2 inches and in diameter by 2 inches. As a result, homebuilders will need to accommodate for this increased product size, including applicable required service clearances (required service clearances vary by model and can be found in the product’s installation manual), and allow for additional overall space at the installation site.
Next, homebuilders installing larger capacity residential water heaters higher than 55 gallons will need to make several adjustments. For gas-fired products over 55 gallons (≤ 75,000 BTU/Hr.), fully condensing combustion technology will likely be required, based on currently available technologies that are capable of meeting the new requirements. As a result, homebuilders will need to include line voltage as well as a means for condensate disposal at the installation site. Electric water heaters over 55 gallons (≤ 12 kW input) will likely utilize integrated heat pumps to meet the new EF requirements, based on currently available technology. You can get more information here.
HVAC Equipment SEER Ratings
New efficiency standards from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will go into effect Jan. 1, 2015 for three different product groups of HVAC equipment- split air conditioners, residential packaged units, and split heat pumps. The most significant product change regarding the new regulations involves all split-system heat pumps which will move from 13 SEER and 7.7 HSPF, Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, to the new national heat pump efficiency minimum of 14 SEER and 8.2 HSP.
While the changes are effective January 1, 2015, the new regulation also includes an 18-month grace period for distributors to sell their remaining inventory. 13 SEER units can still be installed, but the units must have been manufactured prior to January 1, 2015. The grace period ends July 1, 2016.
More information is available here.