Projects/Green Community/Building Code

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This is a working area for the Building Code commitments required to become a Green Community:

  • Require all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet and all new commercial and industrial real estate construction to minimize, to the extent feasible, the life-cycle cost of the facility by utilizing energy efficiency, water conservation and other renewable or alternative energy technologies.
  • Can be accomplished by adopting the new BBRS "stretch" code option

Meeting the stretch code - renovations and remodeling

For renovations and remodeling, meeting the stretch code means building to the existing energy code (IECC 2007) and filling out the [[Media:Thermal Bypass Inspection Checklist.pdf Energy Star Thermal Bypass Checklist], which simply verifies through visual inspection that the work was done to specification.

This approach is known as the prescriptive option (following a set of specific guidelines). The performance option (getting a HERS rating) is the option used for new construction.

Energy Star for Homes

The Energy Star for Homes program provides guidelines for building a home to meet Energy Star standards.

The Energy Star guidelines are in transition from version 2 to version 3.

The Thermal Bypass Checklist used for renovations or remodeling under the Massachusetts Stretch code is from the Version 2 guidelines.

Other Communities

  • As of 11/19/10, 64 communities had adopted the Stretch Code.
  • Map of Stretch Code communities

  • As of 5/14/10, 42 communities had adopted the Stretch Code.

  • Adopted Stretch Code (selected communities)
  • Cambridge - Adpoted Stretch Code end 2009
  • Newton - Mayor and Board of Alderman Accepted Stretch Code in November, 2009
  • Acton
  • Lexington
  • Sudbury
  • As of 4/10/10 - Acton, Cambridge, Lowell, Lexington, Mashpee, Newton, Montague, Kingston, Tyngsboro, Greenfield, Sudbury and Springfield
  • Working on Stretch Code
  • Arlington - On Spring 2010 Town Meeting warrant
  • Carlisle - Hearings in December, 2009

Lexington Presentations

Presentation and spreadsheets prepared and used by Mark Sandeen in Lexington to help persuade Selectmen to adopt Stretch Code. Provided to me by Fred Schlicher of MCAN.

2010 Energy Code Training Seminars

For building inspectors and building professionals

BBRS to examine authority and process for adopting stretch code

  • Updated guidance from Green Communities division on community adoption of stretch code

January, 2010 - I confirmed my suspsicions with Mark Sylvia at DoER. One of the Towns considering adoption raised the question of whether the BBRS had the authority to specify the means of adopting the stretch code; specifically, whether, for towns, they could authorize the adoption by only a vote of the Board of Selectmen, rather than by a vote of the Board and a vote of Town Meeting.

  • Update:As expected, BBRS has modified its regulations so that adoption is "in the manner prescribed by law". For Needham (and most towns), that will mean, as expected, Town Meeting approval.

The BBRS will meet on January 12th to discuss this, but it seems likely that they may defer, for Towns, to the more typical procedure also requiring a Town Meeting vote. That is typical for zoning by-laws and similar statutes. I'm not sure if that is also the procedure for building code changes, which is in fact what the stretch code is. We will know more after they meet.

Michael 10:33, 11 January 2010 (EST)

This is a strange curveball that was announced just the other day (12/18/09). I will try to find out what's behind it. Failing that, we'll know more in early January. This doesn't affect us given where we are, but I am curious it may bode some procedural change in the approval process. - Michael 00:29, 21 December 2009 (EST)

Update on Process to Adopt the Board of Building Regulations and Standards Stretch Energy Code

Please be advised that General Counsel for the Board of Buildings Regulations and Standards ("BBRS") is currently reviewing its authority to specify the process by which towns can adopt the stretch code, as well as the actual process specified in the stretch code for town adoption

The BBRS is going to take the matter up at its January 12th meeting. Therefore, Green Communities advises towns to defer adoption of the stretch code until the matter is resolved by the BBRS.

References for benefits of Green Building

Provided by James Goldstein

The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Buildings - Authored by Greg Kats in 2003, this looks at commercial and institutional buildings and was the first major study to rigorously look at costs and benefits.

Green Buildings and Communities: Costs and Benefits - This is a recent PowerPoint presentation by Greg Kats with a couple of very good summary slides showing minimal average cost premiums (1-2%) of building green and very substantial savings over the life of buildings.

What Does Green Really Cost? - A review article by Peter Morris of Davis Langdon (a leading firm in assessing the economics of green buildings) that summarizes some of the literature lays out the complexity of assessing costs and benefits.

The Costs and Benefits of Green Affordable Housing - by New Ecology and Tellus Institute (I was co-author). The report comprises 16 case studies of affordable housing projects from around the country, with an in-depth analysis of the long-run financial implications of greening each project and Net Present Value projections for each project. In addition recommendations for advancing the green agenda in affordable housing as well as areas for further research are included.

A great resource for information on this topic is the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), developers of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating and certification programs that have been widely adopted in the architecture, construction and real estate industries. On the USGBC website their Research Publications page has a Cost Analysis of Whole Buildings section with several other economic analyses of green building , which includes most of the publications listed above.

As I mentioned, the economic case for greening institutional and commercial buildings is now very well accepted and a good fraction of new buildings are being built to some level of green. The case is somewhat less clear for single family homes, but evidence is growing in the residential sector as well. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Newton Passes Stretch Code

The City of Newton just passed the stretch code.

Michael 22:25, 12 November 2009 (EST)

James Goldstein has contacted Deb Crossley in Newton. He will talk to her in detail when she returns from a trip, but here is her brief summary of what they did:

We have had numerous inquiries from other communitites, so when I return I can also
send you a piece I wrote to Concord outlining the process we went through - essentially, 
we were very thorough, lots of personal outreach to all of the stakeholders to get reps 
on board from the different industries - then lots of personal outreach to officials...

Michael 18:34, 10 December 2009 (EST)

Excerpts from the article (emphasis added):

Newton became the first community in Massachusetts to adopt the “Stretch Code,” which will allow the City to enforce stricter energy efficiently guidelines for new buildings.

Mayor David B. Cohen signed the official Board Order Friday afternoon, after it was unanimously passed by the Board of Alderman on Nov. 2.

“This important measure enhances the City of Newton’s long and proud tradition of environmental leadership and sets the path other Massachusetts communities can follow,” said Cohen. “The City of Newton is reaffirming its commitment to preserving the natural environment, its commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and making the City of Newton as green as possible.”

Here's a short article from

Thanks, James - Michael 17:59, 3 December 2009 (EST) Michael

EcoHome Magazine

  • EcoHome Magazine - a source for information on green products and technologies for home building. Passed to me by an architect friend.

Green Building Advisor

  • Green Building Advisor web site - Good "20 questions) about green building along with reference information and commentary

Olin Poster for Fall Forum

I worked with three Olin students to produce posters for the LWV Fall Forum on October 19th. One, by Tess Edmonds, was on the stretch code. She did a great job and that poster is available for our use with other audiences.

Michael 12:40, 26 October 2009 (EDT)

Stretch Code Information for Residential Construction

Marc Breslow from EoEEA provided me the following two documents on the stretch code as it applies to residential construction:

Michael 12:35, 26 October 2009 (EDT)

Resources - Builders and Developers Supporting the Stretch Code

Marc Breslow from EoEEA was able to provide me the following references for builders and developers supporting the Stretch Code:

Michael – here are some contacts for you of people who will support the stretch code. The first one is the company that manages the Energy Star Homes program for the utilities; there are many such homes already being constructed in Mass. to the stretch code standard, and ICF keeps track of them.

  • ICF International
MA New Homes with Energy Star
(774) 212-2785
  • Green building remodeler from Newton:
Jonathan Kantar
Sage Builders, LLC
(617) 965-5272 x1#
  • Green affordable housing developer in Cambridge (mostly urban infill and renovation work because of location):
Jane Jones
Homeowners Rehab
(617) 868-4858 x212
  • Green multi-family housing developer/real estate management firm
Heather Clark
Winn Development
Project Manager

Stretch Code Webinar 8-19-09

I participated in this DoER webinar on the stretch energy code. I've incorporated some of the key points into the wiki page on the stretch code.

The primary takeaways from the session are that building under the stretch code:

  • produces a positive financial return
  • is a straightforward extension of what will be the existing building code
  • can be accomplished using familiar materials and processes
  • is consistent with related initiatives (Energy Star, LEED)
  • provides economic incentives through that connection

The presentation and the audio will be posted on the DoER website. As soon as that happens, I will make that available here.