Since buildings are responsible for 40% of our nation’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making them as efficient as possible is paramount in the face of climate change. Every three years officials from municipalities and states across the country are eligible to vote on changes to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), America’s model energy code that sets minimum efficiency standards for new commercial and residential buildings.

The IECC is managed by the 18-member International Code Council (ICC), all of whom are U.S. citizens. The code sets standards for new construction that cover a structure’s walls, floors, ceilings, lighting, windows, doors, duct leakage, air leakage, and mechanical systems. Updates proposed for the 2021 version are estimated to bring 10% or more efficient improvement in buildings, allowing owners the opportunity to increase value, lower operating costs, improve comfort, and meet sustainability goals. Now in the final appeals process, the 2021 code is expected to be published by October 1. A final energy savings analysis will be released by the U.S. Department of Energy later in 2020.

More flexibility for commercial projects with options that include HVAC energy efficiency solutions

New provisions for achieving higher efficiency give builders the flexibility to adopt requirements for a project that apply to their building type, design, and climate zone. Section C406 in the commercial section of the code modifies the “choose one” prescriptive approach with a flexible point system that provides energy-saving options that, in total, must add up to the minimum requirement of 10 credits. These 10 credits represent about a 2.5% energy cost savings.

Realizing efficiency gains under the C406 points option results from typical measures of heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC), lighting power, renewable, and building envelope heat loss. The spread of points takes heating and cooling loads into account, and the credits for each option are based on analysis across all climate zones and for various occupancy types. The variations in cost and energy savings will vary for each type of measure and each building type.

The points option provides increased flexibility to choose those new technologies and practices that achieve greater energy savings while minimizing impact on building costs. Looking at approved code change proposals for HVAC demonstrates such opportunities. Proposal CE 111-19, for example, improves building efficiency by detecting HVAC system failures in real-time. Realizing that properly maintained HVAC equipment helps reduce the energy consumption of a building, the code change calls for a mandatory fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) system to monitor the HVAC system’s performance and automatically identify faults in new buildings with a gross conditioned floor area of 100,000 square feet or larger. The energy conservation code defines FDD as “a software platform that utilizes building analytic algorithms to convert data provided by sensors and devices to automatically identify faults in building systems and provide a prioritized list of actionable resolutions to those faults based on cost or energy avoidance, comfort and maintenance impact.”

Additional revisions call for high-efficiency HVAC cooling performance with equipment exceeding the minimum cooling and heating rejection efficiency requirements by 5 and 10%. Where multiple cooling performance requirements are provided, the equipment shall exceed the annual energy requirement, including IEER, SEER, and ILPV according to changes published by New Buildings Institute (NBI), a nonprofit organization working to improve the energy performance of commercial buildings.

Optimizing HVAC systems with Encycle’s Swarm Logic® technology

Optimizing HVAC systems no longer requires huge capital investments such as hardware upgrades or replacements, complicated installations, or disruptions to business. Today’s cloud-based HVAC software is becoming an increasingly popular option to monitor, analyze, and control systems in real-time, all without human intervention.

Using patented algorithms with advanced analytical capabilities, Encycle offers a proven energy-saving solution, Swarm Logic®, which is playing a key role in the carbon emission reduction efforts of its commercial and industrial clients. This unique energy efficiency technology is unlike any other HVAC efficiency solution on the market today. Connecting via the cloud to existing building control systems, connected thermostats, or IoT platforms, Swarm Logic technology synchronizes HVAC rooftop units (RTUs), enabling them to operate as an intelligent networked system. This coordinated and closed-loop approach allows each RTU to dynamically adapt its operation to changing cooling requirements. Companies using Swarm Logic routinely reduce HVAC energy costs and consumption by 10%-20% with little or no capital investment.

Encycle’s Swarm Logic technology typically delivers six- and even seven-figure savings to multi-site customers, with a return on program fees of 2X to 5X starting almost immediately after deployment. In addition, Swarm Logic helps building owners make meaningful progress toward any sustainability goals, and supports IECC requirements that focus on HVAC equipment performance and cooling efficiency. Benefits that Swarm Logic customers achieve include:

  • Consumption management – Swarm Logic ensures that RTUs operate as an efficient networked system without impacting occupant comfort, often achieving reductions up to 20%.
  • Peak demand management – Swarm Logic automatically balances multiple cooling loads, leading to reductions in peak demand of 10%-20%.
  • Extends the life of HVAC equipment – Swarm Logic’s proprietary adaptive control algorithm reduces unnecessary RTU operation, which improves efficiency and extends service life. In addition, fault detection and diagnostics reporting provide insights that enable customers to allocate HVAC repair and replacement budgets more effectively toward those RTUs where the greatest benefit can be gained.
  • CO2 emissions reduction – By helping customers reduce their energy consumption, Swarm Logic lowers CO2 and related GHG emissions, which can lower the amount of renewable energy capacity customers need to install and/or procure. Typical Encycle customers achieve a 10%-20% reduction in HVAC-related GHG emissions.
  • Advanced analytics and reporting – Swarm Logic has a robust set of analytics and reporting tools, giving transparent feedback with real insights and HVAC visibility into building and RTU operations. Real-time reporting capabilities help establish benchmarks and validate energy savings.

Following the successful implementation of Swarm Logic, customers throughout North America realize significant annual energy savings, reduce their GHG emissions, and enjoy other substantial benefits.

For more information on how Encycle can help you reduce your energy use and carbon emissions, contact us at +1 855-875-4031.

Contributing author: Chris Hensley, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Encycle Corporation

“About The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).” Energy Efficient Codes Coalition,
“Flexibility for the Future.” New Buildings Institute,
“International Energy Conservation Code® Resource Page.” ICC, International Code Council, 7 Sept. 2018,
“2018 International Energy Conservation Code, Section C202 General Definitions.” International Code Council, Apr. 2019.
“2021 Commercial Code Proposal Descriptions.” New Buildings Institute,
“2021 IECC, CE218: C406 Points Option, Modifications to the ‘Choose One’ Approach .” New Buildings Institute.

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