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CODE COMPLIANCE

We provide energy consulting and code compliance reports nationwide for our architects and designers. Most of this work involves some variation of the IECC or California’s Title 24 program. In addition to being more stringent, newer codes have some lesser known details that we’ve picked up in our submittal package.

FULL SERVICE ENERGY CONSULTING & REPORT

  • No more REScheck reports, saving time and potential frustration
  • Sleek, professional reports delivered on full size sheets
  • Accuracy guaranteed; we handle any potential readlines

Most architects use our firm exclusively for all their projects because we are able to navigate codes regardless of project type. For example, a modern single family home with lots of glazing will likely cause problems in REScheck and requires a different compliance approach than a more traditional home with less glazing. Each building can be value engineered to save costs but realizing which approach to use and when is a skill that we’re able to share with our clients.

We also can help projects comply with an energy code even if a desired material does not meet a specific criteria. A prime example would be window or door systems with higher U-Value or SHGC– this is very common in colder climates.

For 2015 IECC and beyond, we include our energy compliance reports on full size sheets (e.g. 30×42) to allow for the building thermal envelope depiction and any other potential local amendments. In addition to picking up these smaller requirements, our calculations are now firmly implanted in the construction drawings which allow for easier bidding by subcontractors. General contractors are simply able to point to our EN1 and EN2 sheets when questions arise on energy codes.

For 2012 IECC and previous codes, we typically do not include these calculations on full size sheets and instead provide a 8.5×11 PDF binder that can be printed for building permit approval.

VALUE ENGINEERING

Value engineering for energy code compliance is one of our biggest assets and is done on nearly 100% of our project submittals. As a company, we believe it is in the best interest of our clients to specify the most cost-effective building materials. This also extends to the quantities of those materials, specifically the insulation values.

Foam insulation has become commonplace in Arizona, specifically in sealed attic applications. While foam insulation is an excellent product and one that we endorse, the cost remains prohibitive for some builders when considering Prescriptive Path compliance.

COST EFFECTIVE SOLUTIONS

  • Design for comfort, efficiency & affordability for the client
  • Stay on budget; achieve greater performance
  • Evaluate multiple specs & compare annual costs

In Phoenix, under the 2018 IECC, the code calls for R-38 in the ceiling which equates to approximately 10” of open cell foam. Performance data shows that diminishing returns set in heavily after 6” of open cell foam and thus we focus our energy calculations to comply with R-20 in this application. We are able to offset the lower amount of insulation through a number of different methods. Our software is a key advantage compared to typical REScheck. Our energy model is able to show savings through inputs that are not available in REScheck– one such example is the location of the duct work (vented attic vs. sealed attic).

We also provide value engineering for aluminum and steel window and door systems. Our unique approach to fenestration systems has allowed us to become the primary energy consultant for key manufacturers including Western Window Systems, Fleetwood Window & Door and the iconic Hope’s Window. We have also consulted with a variety of smaller local manufacturers as well.

ENERGY MODELING

For all projects, from basic code compliance to buildings seeking advanced certifications, we will build an energy model. We define an energy model as a 3D massing model generated from plans with area takeoffs imported into an approved, hourly simulation software.

Once created, we can alter any number of building materials to tailor-fit the design to your intention. Because we save the energy models indefinitely, it allows us to review specifications during construction in the event that a builder is seeking to change a detail.

MATERIAL CONSULTING

  • Create dwellings that perform at a high level
  • Maximize comfort for your clients
  • Mechanical and plumbing consulting also available

When we transitioned to 3D modeling, our purpose was to increase the accuracy of our area takeoffs. That was an obvious benefit but what we soon realized is that we were able to see potential pitfalls in design that weren’t otherwise evident from our review. For example, sealed attic systems can often be adjacent to porch or garage attics– these areas need special attention as they are typically not blocked. Our models show the exact location and dimensions of these knee walls and we can appropriately call out the correct sealing materials before the drawings are finalized. Another example for vented attics would be documenting the plate height changes and the corresponding amount of blocking required to properly seal these areas.

An energy model, when fully constructed, can be used to provide estimated annual utility costs and usage. For designs that are considering solar, we can print specialty reports that can be used by solar designers for partial or full (net zero) energy offsets. Our energy models can also compare to national programs such as the EPA’s Energy Star for Homes.

We deliver a projected HERS Score for all our projects comparing the designed home to an identical reference home built to the 2006 IECC. This is a great baseline for architects to understand the impacts of their designs. Projects with extremely low HERS Scores (the lower the better) often consider pursuing a confirmed HERS Score once construction commences. This score is a marketing advantage for spec homes and gives timely quality assurance throughout construction.

POST PERMIT REVISIONS

Post permit revisions are changes to plans which have already been approved. In most circumstances, the builder is seeking to change a spec due to cost or feasibility. The majority of our post-permit revisions are local (Phoenix metro) and are from designs that we did not work on with the architect. The builder approaches us directly and we consider alternatives that align with the realities of construction.

Each building department handles these changes differently and we have a process in place with nearly all municipalities in the Phoenix metropolitan area. However, this service is available in any area and we are always willing to talk to building officials on your behalf.

Many builders are unaware that this option exists and either feel the need to follow plans explicitly or change the spec in the field and hope that the building inspector misses the change. Either circumstance could lead to problems with the latter opening you up to potential legal concerns. It is always advisable to make the change through the proper channels.

The most common post permit revisions addressed are changes for insulation (reducing from R-38 to R-20 open cell foam) or window values (adjusting to allow for metal frame windows with higher U-Value). We typically can turn these projects around in less than 3 business days and most municipalities allow the changes to be approved in the field rather than requiring an additional plan review.

OUR DIFFERENCE

When working with our architect partners, it is important that we see and respect their vision for their design. Thus, our recommendations will always preserve that vision– our focus is the behind the scenes details that will ensure the project meets code and performs at a high level.

It’s an honor and great feeling when the project team begins to lean on us for us for expertise in related disciplines. Because our area of expertise encompasses the entire building envelope as well as mechanical and plumbing systems, we are often asked for advice in these areas. Our wide network and industry exposure allows us to give feedback on framing techniques, mechanical systems, lighting and more.

The majority of our architect clients use our services on all of their designs, not just the more complex concepts. They feel more confident in their deliverable when we’ve reviewed it in detail and advised the specific insulation depth level, ESR number, and more. The information that we provide is organized in a single PDF sheet that can easily be sent to the mechanical designer for accurate load calculations. This prevents over-sizing of mechanical systems and the laundry list of problems that come with it.

If our clients are looking for ways to improve their designs, we can run simulations with different building materials to evaluate any number of criteria such as: annual savings, code compliance, HERS Score, and more.
Our goal is to be an invaluable resource for our architect partners. We’ve achieved that goal when the project team is able to again focus on their design and leave the building specifications to us.

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