Construction, Green Codes

Energy Code Course Keeps Students Charged Up!

August 7, 2012 | By Jessica Cooper | Make a Comment »

“Cracking the Energy Code training was excellent. The departure from the ‘bullet point slideshow with code clauses’ was refreshing…. the course manual is an extremely well thought out, graphically clear product, which I have already referenced a dozen times since the training.”

This is quite a statement for a course outlining code material!  We’re happy to say it’s consistent with other feedback from students who have taken Cracking the Energy Code, which Urban Green developed with the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).  Data compiled from the 44 courses delivered since last September show that 85% of students feel that the course has met or exceeded their expectations.

The Course was funded by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and gives an overview of the 2010 Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State (ECCCNYS-2010), including compliance methods.  It also covers some of the fundamentals of low energy design.

Wanting some insight from an insider, I asked instructor Paul Reale to share his thoughts on why Cracking the Energy Code is keeping students revved up and excited to learn.

Jessica Cooper: How long have you been teaching Cracking the Energy Code?

Paul Reale: The first time I ‘cracked it’ was March 6th and I’ve taught another five since.

JC: Who is your primary audience for the course?

PR: The main target audience is architects, building engineers, lighting designers and code officials, but I believe the course helps lots of people working in or with the building industry: sustainability service providers, policy makers, building inspectors and even to some degree environmentalists. Thus far, the vast majority of students have been architects, but so many more can benefit from it.

JC: How does this course compare  to similar courses?

PR: Umm, have you ever read any energy conservation construction codes?  Let’s put it this way – it’s good material for your nightstand if you’re an insomniac.  Yet the vast majority of students that have taken this course find it excellent.

JC: What are the biggest areas of concern for students?

PR: Roughly speaking, the level of code requirements, administration, and scrutiny by code officials has increased by an order of magnitude.  This is definitely a “wow, I’m glad I learned this” kind of class!

JC: Any personal favorites in the curriculum?

PR: I particularly like the practical parts about thermal bridging in a building envelope as well as techniques for energy efficient lighting.  And the heat wheel slide? I’ve gotten some pretty good reactions from that one.  It’s like a 2-minute rock concert to an engineer.

JC: So where do you see this code having the biggest impact?

PR: There are three main areas addressed: building envelope, mechanicals (like HVAC equipment) and lighting.  It’s hard to pick one of the three because they’re all addressed to a great degree, though perhaps the longest-term impact is on the envelope, because an envelope retrofit is not easy.  You really need to try to get it right from the very beginning, and the effects last for the life of the building.

JC: Do you have any insights on future policy in energy conservation and/or sustainable building? 

PR: Ok, serious question so let’s close on a serious note.  As much as the new code will tighten energy consumption (and greenhouse gas emissions, for that matter) resulting from buildings, it’s still a far cry from a sustainable energy and emissions budget.  In the not-so-distant future, our buildings will have to be much more efficient, and you can’t get there without an incredibly tight, well-insulated envelope.  That’s fundamentally incompatible with a glass tower.  There – I said it.  But if you come take the class, I’ll tell you how it’s possible to use a lot of glass yet still comply with the current code!
Cracking the Energy Code sessions are being scheduled in New York City and throughout New York State through November 13, 2012.  Register on NYSERDA’s website (more Course dates coming soon) or e-mail us if you want Cracking the Energy Code offered near you. 

Paul is teaching his next session is Thursday, August 9 at the Center for Architecture.  Sign up today!

- who has written 5 posts on Urban Green Blog.

Jessica Cooper is Programs Manager at Urban Green Council and is an active member of the Emerging Professionals.

Contact the author

Share your view

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

© 2012 Urban Green Blog.