The 111th Congress met for the first time Jan. 6 followed by the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama Jan. 20. These momentous and celebratory occasions long will be remembered as will the steps these leaders take to quickly address the huge economic and energy crises facing the U.S. Be it part of a stimulus package or new energy legislation, those of us in the roofing industry should be prepared for building codes and federal directives that encourage more energy-efficient, sustainable buildings that lead to the creation of not just additional employment but "green" jobs, as well.
Because every good historian knows the past is prologue, understanding the recent developments in building energy codes and energy-efficiency tax incentives that occurred during 2008 will assist us in understanding how to fully take advantage of the policies that will be adopted during the months ahead.
For the first time in 19 years, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Inc. increased the minimum required prescriptive R-value for roof and wall insulation levels in ASHRAE 90.1, "Energy Efficient Design of New Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings," the national model energy standard for commercial buildings. The above-deck roof insulation requirement that was R-15 has been raised to R-20—an increase of 33 percent—in climate zones 2 through 8 in the U.S. Similar increases were approved for walls. The increased roof and wall insulation values now apply to all commercial and high-rise residential buildings covered by ASHRAE 90.1-2007.