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Seattle Energy Code Bests National Standard

July 2, 2014 By Karen Henry

Seattle skylineSeattle’s 2012 energy code is more effective at lowering a building’s energy use than ASHRAE 90.1-2010, according to the report Comparison of the 2012 Seattle Energy Code with ASHRAE 90.1-2010. The report shows that new buildings in Seattle can be expected to use, on average, 11.3 percent less energy than buildings nationwide, and to save 9.3 percent in energy costs.

The report compares the prescriptive minimum performance levels of the 2012 Seattle Energy Code (SEC) with the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) energy standard for commercial buildings, ASHRAE 90.1-2010, and estimates energy impacts for the major differences.

ASHRAE 90.1-2010 is the basis for building energy codes nationwide and is the standard used by the US Green Building Council’s LEED green building rating system.

The report identified 91 code differences and found 16 ASHRAE 90.1-2010 provisions to be more stringent than the 2012 SEC and 71 SEC provisions to be more stringent than 90.1-2010. Examples include the following:

  • SEC has higher minimum insulation requirements for all envelope components.
  • SEC requires building air leakage testing and compliance with a maximum leakage of 0.4 CFM/ft2 at 75PA.
  • SEC requires full commissioning with plan, preliminary and final commissioning reports.
  • SEC requires hourly metering of all energy sources and major end uses.

The largest amount of energy cost savings were achieved through envelope measures (24 percent) and advanced metering (24 percent), followed by commissioning (16 percent) and HVAC (10 percent).


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