Building Sustainability

In sustainable construction, the Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC) has taken a significant stride forward with implementing the SBCC 2021 code. This updated code mandates higher standards for energy efficiency, marking a pivotal moment in the state’s commitment to environmental responsibility.

Energizing New Construction Energy Credits

Among the notable changes is the increased emphasis on renewable energy credits (RECs), with solar energy emerging as a key player in meeting compliance requirements. In this blog, we delve into the nuances of the new Washington SBCC 2021 code in effect as of March 15th, 2024, mainly focusing on the remarkable provision allowing satisfaction of 4.5 credits solely through solar energy utilization. The State Building Code Council (SBCC) in Washington oversees building code regulations to ensure safety, uniformity, and compliance in construction. It updates codes, promotes public interest, and ensures structures meet standards for safety and accessibility.

Exploring RECs

In Washington, the 2021 State Building Code Council (SBCC) emphasizes incorporating renewable energy sources to promote sustainable construction practices.

Defining RECs

RECs represent the environmental attributes of renewable energy generation and are vital in sustainable construction. They certify that a specific amount of electricity comes from renewable sources, such as solar, wind, or hydropower. RECs play a crucial role in incentivizing the development and use of renewable energy by providing financial support and recognizing environmental benefits.

Utilizing RECs for Compliance

RECs can contribute to compliance with building codes by enabling builders and developers to meet renewable energy requirements or energy efficiency standards outlined in the codes. By investing in RECs, builders can offset their projects’ carbon footprint and demonstrate adherence to sustainability goals outlined in building regulations.

Types of Renewable Energy Technology Eligible for RECs

Various renewable energy sources are eligible for REC accreditation, including Solar Energy generated from photovoltaic (PV) panels or solar thermal systems. Other renewable energy generation sources, such as wind, hydropower, biomass, and geothermal power, can help satisfy RECs for new construction under the 2021 SBCC.

Solar Power as a Cornerstone of Compliance

Solar power is essential for meeting SBCC 2021 requirements and promoting construction compliance. It reduces reliance on non-renewable energy sources, curtails greenhouse gas emissions, and saves costs in the long run. Embracing solar energy for new construction projects saves money, creates jobs, promotes energy independence, and protects the environment.

Breakdown of Solar Energy Credits

Under the SBCC 2021 code, a detailed examination reveals that solar energy is a significant component, allowing up to 4.5 credits to be satisfied solely through solar energy. Through solar energy, you can earn 0.5 credits for every 600kWh of solar energy produced annually, up to a maximum of 4.5 credits. Depending on size and occupancy, various dwelling units have specific credit requirements, such as small, medium, and large, with corresponding credit thresholds.

Dwelling Unit Size and Credit Requirements

  1. Small Dwelling Unit (>1,500 sq ft) – 5.0 credits
  2. Medium Dwelling Unit (all not included in #1, 3, or 4) – 8.0 credits
  3. Large Dwelling Unit (Exceeding 5,00 sq ft) – 9.0 credits
  4. R-2 Occupancy Dwelling Unit – 6.5 credits
  5. Additions 150 sq ft to 500 sq ft – 2.0 credits

Solar RECs The Future of New Construction

Solar energy plays a crucial role in complying with the Washington SBCC 2021 code and setting up the future of new construction for sustainability and efficiency. These are two values we imbue our work with at Northwest Electric and Solar, as we help contractors and homeowners utilize renewable energy technologies like solar, battery, EV charging, and SPAN to electrify homes and prepare them for the future. See how much money you can save with solar by reaching out and requesting a free estimate!

user profile image for Manuel Larrain
Manuel Larrain
Manuel Larrain is a Chilean-born US citizen who studied business and sustainability at Western Washington University. Solar energy is his passion, as it is transforming how Washingtonians power their lifestyle. He believes we can address climate change, environmental justice, and steward a brighter future for all of us through renewable energy.