My girlfriend and I are currently having a garage and mudroom built at our home in Massachusetts. The powers that be want to make the world a more energy efficient place, so the states are updating their building codes.

The Residential Building Code Will Change on July 1

It's all about your HERS score. (Home Energy Rating System).

HERS stands for Home Energy Rating System. A Home Energy Rating involves onsite inspections and an analysis of a home's construction plans. The HERS rating results in a Certificate and with an index (like a score) that shows how your home performs.

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If you've got a permit to build a residential space anywhere in Massachusetts right now, your home has to be energy efficient enough to score a 52 on the HERS scale, and that's what is about to change.

The Building Code in MA will change to require a HERS score of of 42 or 45 on July 1.

What will get you a better HERS score?

Curbing the energy usage of the following

  • Heating
  • Cooling
  • Hot Water
  • Lights
  • Appliances

During a HERS inspection, the rater will look at:

  • The ceilings and roof.
  • Windows.
  • Doors.
  • Vents and ductwork.
  • Exterior walls, both below and above ground.
  • HVAC systems.
  • Water heating systems.
  • The thermostat.
  • Floors over unfinished and unconditioned spaces such as basements and garages.

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How do you get better energy usage?

  • Increased air-tightness and on-site performance testing, eliminating drafts
  • Continuous insulation and air barriers, keeping homes warmer in winter and cooler in summer
  • Careful attention to minimizing thermal bridging
  • High-performance windows and doors, that are not cold to the touch during winter months
  • High-efficiency ventilation and energy recovery, providing filtered fresh air at a minimal cost
  • Higher quality and more durable construction due to on-site inspections
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The changes in code apply to new residential construction.

The Massachusetts State Building Code consists of a series of international model codes and any state-specific amendments adopted by the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS). The BBRS regularly updates the state building codes as new information and technology becomes available and change is warranted. These updates are listed here, as well as links to the model codes.

The MSBC is separated into two distinct volumes: The Residential volume regulates all one- and two-family structures and townhouses that are three stories or less, as well as their accessory structures; The Base volume regulates all structures that are not covered by the Residential regulations.

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