PA Energy Code PA Check

Compliance Pathways

The PA UCC offers five distinct pathways for compliance to the energy provisions:

  1. Prescriptive Pathway in 2015 IRC/IECC
  2. Prescriptive Pathway in PA Alternative Energy Provisions
  3. UA Tradeoff - typically using REScheck software
  4. Simulated Performance - using approved software
  5. Energy Rating Index (ERI)

Regardless of the pathway followed, there are also mandatory requirements that must be met, including:

Here are more details about each pathway:

Prescriptive Pathway in 2015 IRC/IECC

Both the 2015 IRC and 2015 IECC contain tables that prescribe minimum insulation and fenstration performance levels by geographic location.  This is the simplest compliance path.  Each component in the building envelope must meet the minimum requirement.  No further energy analysis is required.

Learn more about the specific requirements on the Envelope page of this website.

Prescriptive Pathway in 2018 PA Alternative Energy Provisions

In PA, builders also have the option of selecting the less restrictive prescriptive requirements in the "PA Alternative Residential Energy Provisions", as long as they also agree to implement one of the "Enhancement Options" listed in this document (and shown below).  Like the 2015 IRC/IECC Prescriptive path, this is a simple compliance path.  Each component in the building envelope must meet the minimum requirement.  No further energy analysis is required.

RAEP Energy Enhancement Options

Learn more about the specific insulation and fenestration requirements on the Envelope page of this website.

Total UA Alternative

The 2015 IRC/IECC allows a builder to decrease the insulating value (higher U-factor) one component if it is equalized by increasing the insulating value (lower U-factor) of another component. As long as the total UA (U-factor x Surface Area) is equal to or lower than what it would have been if the house had been built to the prescriptive tables, the house is compliant. Utilizing this pathway requires evaluation of the building with approved software.  This was also allowed in the 2009 IECC.

The software most commonly used for UA analysis is REScheck, which is available free from the federal government. Click the logo to go to the download site.

REScheck Logo

Simulated Performance Alternative

The 2015 IRC/IECC also allows a builder to decrease the insulation levels in the building by implementing equalizing improvements in heating, cooling, or water heating systems.  As long as the total projected energy cost is equal to or lower than what it would have been if the house had been built to the prescriptive tables and other assumptions detailed in the codes, the house is compliant.  Utilizing this pathway requires evaluation of the building with approved software.  This pathway was also allowed in the 2009 IECC.

There are several software packages available to complete this analysis.  Here are some of the most common:

Energy Rating Index (ERI) Alternative

Another option, newly added with the 2015 IRC/IECC, allows a builder to incorporate lighting and appliances into the compliance calculations.  For example, a house could trade off a lower ceiling insulation value for a higher efficiency heater or a higher percentage of high efficacy lighting.  Utilizing this pathway requires evaluation of the building with approved software that estimates the total energy use with an Energy Rating Index (ERI). 

The ERI uses a 0-100 scale where a rating of 100 equates to a house built to the 2006 IECC prescriptive requirements. A rating of 0 would be applied to a house that generates just enough renewable energy to offset its annual consumption.  The most common ERI is the HERS Rating, which is generated using systems created and controlled by RESNET.

HERS Index Graphic

To be compliant, a home must have an ERI below a threshold listed in the IECC that is based on the climate zone.  For PA, an amenment was adopted that uses the Maximum ERI values from the 2018 IECC, which are higher (less stringent) than those in the 2015 IECC.

Max Energy Rating Index Table

There are several software packages available to complete an ERI analysis.  Here are some of the most common:

An ERI must be generated by a certified rater. Certified raters can be found at:

RESNET Logo

 

Pathway Graphic