The Leading by Example (LBE) Program was created by Executive Order No. 484 and sets aggressive targets for facilities owned and operated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts regarding greenhouse gas emission reductions, energy conservation and efficiency, renewable energy, green buildings, and water conservation. Leading by Example: An Action Plan for Green Buildings in Massachusetts State Construction Projects, developed by the Massachusetts Sustainable Design Roundtable, establishes minimum green building standards for all major state government construction projects.
Code amendment cycles occur twice a year, as required by statute, and include a public hearing process. The Board of Building Regulations Standards has sole authority to promulgate the Massachusetts State Building Code (MSBC). Anyone can submit code change proposals to the Board. Adopted code changes are typically promulgated during the year of adoption.
Enforcement is through the local building inspectors of the 351 cities and towns of the Commonwealth. Only a Building Code Board of Appeals, consisting of specified technical members, may grant a variance to the code. Plan review and construction inspection, although performed by the local building official, is also required of the engineers/architects of record when buildings exceed 35,000 cubic feet of interior volume.
Compliance is determined at the local level by local building inspectors as part of an application review and inspection process. Compliance is addressed in three distinct ways: 1) registered architects and engineers at the design level are charged by state law and regulations with abiding by design criteria of the code, 2) the construction community is equally charged with abiding by the code, and 3) the building officials review the submitted plans and complete inspections prior to issuing the certificate of compliance. Compliance paths include both prescriptive and performance approaches. Building professionals can use REScheck to show compliance for residential buildings and COMcheck for commercial buildings. On May 6, 2010, Massachusetts was announced as one of the states that will participate in BECP's Compliance Evaluation Pilot Study.
By statue, the uniform MSBC has been the single, legal statewide building code since January 1, 1975. The MSBC applied to all new construction and certain work in existing buildings. The energy provisions in the MSBC were developed by the Board's Energy Advisory Committee, working with staff supported by a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, and with additional support from the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources which administers utility rebate programs and establishes state energy policy.
New code for Single and Two-Family Dwellings was effective April 1, 2007 with a concurrency period where a code user may choose to either use the Sixth or Seventh Edition of the code; to expire January 1, 2008. On July 2, 2008, the state of Massachusetts updated its Seventh Edition, Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings (780 CMR) and its Seventh Edition Basic Building Code (for all other buildings) with state-specific front-end amendments.
On November 20, 2008, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick set two major goals for energy efficiency and renewable energy. The first aims to make all new malls and "big box" retail stores energy efficient and powered in part by solar energy by 2010. The second goal is for the state to offer a super-efficient building code as a local option for municipalities based on established national voluntary above-code efficiency standards such as the Energy Star for Homes program and the New Buildings Institute's "Core Performance" program for commercial properties.
On May 12, 2009 the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) approved Appendix 120AA as an optional amendment to the 7th edition Massachusetts Building Code 780 CMR. This optional "stretch code" was developed in response to the call for improved local building energy efficiency in the state. Towns and cities may adopt Appendix 120AA as an alternative to the base energy efficiency requirements of 780 CMR and the forthcoming 8th edition to be based on the 2009 IECC (Massachusetts is required by the Green Communities Act of 2008 to adopt each new IECC edition within one year of its publication). The appendix, which includes both a residential and commercial stretch code, is designed to be about 30% more energy efficient than the 2006 IECC/ASHRAE 90.1-2004.
Massachusetts is required by the Green Communities Act of 2009 to adopt each new IECC edition within one year of its publication. The incorporation of the 2009 IECC will be included in the 8th edition of the Massachusetts Building Code. A new energy code will go into effect in July 2010. Towns and cities can opt into the stretch code appendix.
- On October 17, 2008, ASHRAE 90.1-2007 was adopted as chapter thirteen of the amended MA seventh edition building energy code.
- On January 1, 2010, IECC 2009 was adopted with the reference to ASHRAE 90.1-2007 still maintained as the seventh edition with a six month concurrency period to phase in the new energy code, effective July 1, 2010.
- On August 8, 2010, adoption of the broader set of ICC 2009 family of codes was amended into the eigth edition of MA building code maintaining 2009 IECC/90.1-2007 and now included the residential portion of 2009 IECC, effective February 4, 2011.