Almost exactly 18 months after Gov. Baker signed Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2021, An Act Creating A Next-Generation Roadmap For Massachusetts Climate Policy, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) released final code language for its Stretch Energy Code and Specialized Municipal Opt-in Code.
The DOER’s Final Regulations 225 CMR 22.00 and 225 CMR 23.00 have been submitted to the Legislature for referral to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy pursuant to Section 12 of General Law Chapter 25A. Within thirty days after such referral, that committee may hold a public hearing on the regulations and shall issue a report to the commissioner of the department. As of this writing, the committee has not yet scheduled a public hearing on the new energy codes, but the DOER anticipates filing the final regulations with the Secretary of State in December.
The Stretch Energy Code (Stretch Code) regulations have since 2009 been published in 780 CMR 115.AA under the jurisdiction of the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS). Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2021 moved the authority for the Stretch Code promulgation from the BBRS to the DOER and at the same time required the development of a new Municipal Opt-in Specialized Energy cCode (Specialized Code).
The updated Stretch Code as newly incorporated into DOER regulations (225 CMR) is divided into 2 chapters, following the format of the IECC.
- 225 CMR 22 – Residential Low-rise Construction Stretch Energy Code
- 225 CMR 23 – Commercial (and all other) Construction Stretch Energy Code
The Specialized Code includes additional requirements that form an Appendix to each of the chapters of the Stretch Code.
- 225 CMR 22 Appendix RC – Residential Low-rise Construction Specialized Code
- 225 CMR 23 Appendix CC – Commercial (and all other) Construction Specialized Code
The Stretch code has been available since late 2009 and has been widely adopted by cities and towns in Massachusetts. As a result, the update to the Stretch Code will not require an additional vote in those existing Stretch Code municipalities. The Specialized Code is a new option and is adopted as a municipal opt-in code similar to the Stretch Code process.
The current Base Energy Code is being updated along with the rest of the BBRS regulated building codes to a 10th Edition MA Code that will be based on the International Code Council (ICC) 2021 edition. Combined with the Stretch Code update and new Specialized Code contained in DOER’s proposed regulations, this results in a tiered set of 3 energy code options for municipalities as follows:
- Updated Base Energy Code = IECC 2021 with MA amendments
- Updated Stretch Code = IECC 2021 with MA amendments + Stretch Code amendments
- Specialized Code = IECC 2021 with MA amendments + Stretch Code amendments +
Specialized Code appendices
The Specialized Code must be available for adoption by cities and towns by December 24, 2022. When a municipality votes to adopt the Specialized Code, DOER recommends that the requirements take effect for new building permit applications beginning on the next January 1st or July 1st, whichever is a minimum of 6 months after the municipal vote. This phase-in period, also utilized by new Stretch Code municipalities, allows an orderly transition for developers, designers and builders as well as additional training time for municipal code officials.