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Commercial Energy Conservation Code

On March 7, 2017, the city adopted a new energy code, the 2017 City of Boulder Energy Conservation Code (COBECC), which is based on the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 2012, with local amendments to the International Building Code (IBC), International Plumbing Code (IPC) and International Residential Code (IRC) to address energy and sustainability issues. The effective date for all new projects will be May 8, 2017.  Building permits applied for before the effective date shall be considered under the code in effect at the time of application. The new code will not apply to projects which have submitted complete site review applications prior to May 8, 2017.

Please refer to the links provided on the sidebar for an Amendment Summary, Mandatory Measures Checklist, Prescriptive Measures Checklist, Performance Path Summary, and Commercial Energy Modeling Report Template. The applicable checklist(s) shall be completed and included on an "Energy Conservation Code" sheet within the plans being submitted for permit.

The most significant changes to the commercial construction requirements are the:

  • revised prescriptive energy code requirements and new requirements for alterations for commercial buildings.
  • revised how multi-family buildings are now addressed in the commercial energy code
  • electric vehicle charging infrastructure and solar-ready requirements for the installation of future photovoltaic systems

2017 Energy Code Changes

  • The 2017 COBECC is based off the previously adopted 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and Green Building Green Points Program. It provides a single source for all of Boulder's energy code requirements. Previously, users would have to reference the 2012 IECC and review applicable amendments in the Boulder Revised Code. With the introduction of the 2017 COBECC, all of Boulder’s energy codes are detailed in a single source. 
  • Multifamily buildings are treated differently under the 2017 COBECC. Residential buildings only include single family homes, townhomes, duplexes and R-3 and R-4 occupancy buildings (includes boarding and care facilities). Any mixed use or multifamily apartment or condo buildings will be regulated under the commercial code. 
  • Application of code requirements for alteration projects will be based on the percent of the project cost compared to the Actual Value of the existing building as assessed by Boulder County.
  • The prescriptive compliance approach has been simplified. All prescriptive compliance mandates can be found in the 2017 COBECC.
  • New energy code measures include heating and cooling system door and window interlock shutoff and for new buildings, electric vehicle charging requirements for new buildings, and solar ready requirements.

New Construction and Additions

New buildings and additions with a project cost of $500,000 or greater shall meet commercial energy efficiency mandatory requirements and have annual energy operating costs for the proposed design that are at least 30 percent less than the standard reference design of Appendix G of ASHRAE 90.1-2010 as described in the 2017 City of Boulder Energy Conservation Code (COBECC).  Refer to Section C401.2.1.

For new buildings and additions with a project cost less than $500,000 the prescriptive compliance approach is available. Refer to Section C401.2.1.

Alterations and Repairs

Alterations and repairs to existing buildings shall meet commercial energy efficiency mandatory requirements and requirements based on the construction value of the project relative to the Actual Value of the existing building per the Boulder County Tax Assessor's database.

  • Construction value < 26 percent of Assessed Value: All energy and building code requirements (for the scope of the addition).
  • Construction value 26 - 50 percent of Assessed Value: Shall have annual energy operating costs for the proposed design that are equal to or less than the standard reference design of Appendix G of ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2010 Energy Standard for Building Except for Low-rise Residential Buildings.
  • Construction value > 50 percent of Assessed Value: Triggers new construction requirements. 

Documenting Energy Code Compliance

Checklists have been created to improve compliance and enforcement processes. Based on a project’s energy code compliance path, corresponding documentation will be required with permit application. Refer to the diagram below to confirm your projects compliance path. 

Compliance Path

Per the diagram above, all commercial projects must meet the mandatory commercial provisions in the 2017 COBECC.  The corresponding Commercial Mandatory Measure Checklist xlsx must be completed and included on an “Energy Conservation Code” sheet within the plans being submitted.  Depending on construction value, projects will either need to comply with the prescriptive requirements or demonstrate compliance through performance energy modeling. A Commercial Prescriptive Measure Checklist xlsx has been developed and, where applicable, shall be completed and included on the “Energy Conservation Code” sheet.  Projects demonstrating compliance via energy modeling shall complete and include on the plans the Commercial Performance Summary Checklist xlsx. The Commercial Energy Modeling Report Template docx shall also be completed and submitted with summary reports from the energy modeling software with the permit application.