An Introduction to New York’s Energy Efficiency Codes

Building codes usually exist to protect the safety of occupants or preserve a neighborhood’s character, but New York State has additional requirements. Under the Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State, every new development or substantial renovation must meet efficiency requirements that can affect every aspect of your building design, from the basement windows to the attic insulation. Understanding state law before your project begins can prevent unexpected delays and costly last-minute redesigns. Below, learn more about these laws and how it applies to construction. 

New York State’s Energy Efficiency Laws

New York’s energy efficiency laws feature strict prescriptions describing which construction materials and equipment can be used in a project. For instance, the code requires insulation with a minimum R-value of 25 on exterior walls and limits the types of lighting fixtures and heating equipment that can be used. Even fireplace covers and swimming pool heaters are subject to New York’s energy efficiency building codes.

The Performance Analysis Approach

Fortunately, New York’s code allows building owners to take a different approach that may allow them to bypass some of the prescriptive elements of the law. Instead of looking at individual features, this approach uses complex software to analyze and predict the energy efficiency of the building as a whole. Many building designers prefer this method, which allows them to trade shortfalls in one area for increased performance in another.

The Basics of Local Codes

If you’re planning a construction project in New York, it’s important to understand which codes apply and how they might affect your building. For instance, New York City has its own energy efficiency codes that actually supersede state law. In other cases, even an adaptive reuse project can be subject to the code, which could substantially increase the cost of your building design and remodel.