Toolkit Definitions

The following are definitions for common terms used within the adoption, compliance, and enforcement toolkits.

Building code refers to a law or regulation used by state or local governments that establishes specifications for the design and construction of residential or commercial buildings. Building codes help ensure that new and existing residential and commercial structures meet minimum health, safety, and performance standards. In addition, building codes offer a baseline to which structures can be compared. 

Code adoption refers to the vehicle that establishes code requirements and their administration. Adoption can be mandatory, voluntary, or a combination of the two. The means of adoption vary with respect to the scope of the code provisions being adopted, the point in time or time frame applicable to adoption, and the entity doing the adopting. Adoption of an energy code helps to ensure that new and existing residential and commercial buildings achieve the minimum level of energy efficiency outlined in the code.

Commercial build community means those practitioners engaged in the design and construction of commercial and high-rise multifamily residential buildings that fall under the requirements of commercial building energy codes. 

Compliance with energy codes means that buildings are designed, constructed, inspected, and tested to meet the requirements of the applicable energy code so that a certificate of occupancy can be issued by a code official. 

Energy codes refer to the subset of provisions in a building code that establishes the criteria for the building’s thermal envelope; heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system; service water heating system; lighting system; and other areas related to energy usage and performance. Energy codes are developed as a baseline from which homes and all other buildings will achieve a minimum level of energy efficiency. 

Enforcement community means those practitioners engaged in ensuring that the design and construction of buildings meet the requirements of commercial building energy codes.  These practitioners are typically code officials, but they could also be peers in the commercial or residential build communities.

Mandatory adoption is affected through a law, rule, or regulation from an authoritative body or agency.

Model energy codes refer to national and international standards that cover the design, construction, and testing of buildings.  Future model energy codes and standards may involve actual building energy usage and will therefore require consideration of commissioning, operation and maintenance, and occupant behavior of all buildings. 

Residential build community means those practitioners engaged in the design and construction of low-rise residential buildings that fall under the requirements of residential building energy codes. Practitioners include architects, engineers, and designers, as well as subcontractors responsible for various energy-using or energy-influencing systems in a building. 

Toolkit refers to a mixed media assemblage of information helpful in adopting and updating residential and commercial building energy codes; for designing and constructing residential and commercial buildings that comply with the appropriate energy code for a particular location, the year for which construction starts, and the building type (as applicable); and for enforcing  residential and commercial building energy codes for a particular location, energy code, and building type (as applicable). 

Voluntary adoption is the decision by a state, jurisdiction, designer, contractor, owner, developer, or other authority associated with a building to comply with all or certain portions of an energy code, standard, or other criteria.