A sweeping set of residential building code changes in Illinois—the home state of Chicago-based Burnham Nationwide—illustrates the importance of having a reliable partner to keep you abreast of current regulations. In building or renovating, it’s important, not only to adhere to current guidelines, but also be on top of building code changes or revisions. The professionals at Burnham Nationwide should be viewed as your trusted partners because we believe your project is our project.
This past February, Illinois regulators proposed that builders of new homes must ensure that they meet high standards related to insulation. To that end, a blower door test and other rigorous standards will more than likely be required by this summer, barring any substantial opposition.
Vocal resistance to these building code compliance changes is coming from homeowners’ associations across the state. The groups have decried these measures as draconian overreaches. However, in the event the building code changes are approved and passed—as is expected—we have ensured our residential clients have been apprised of these new requirements.
The new rules are expected to be finalized this summer and implemented by early next year. With these changes, the state would become the first in the Midwest to require such high environmental standards. Energy efficiency is increasingly a sought-after goal of many regulatory bodies, and you might expect more building code changes in your part of the country—in both the commercial and residential sectors—to reflect this trend.
To give you an idea of the scope of the new Illinois requirements, consider the proposed requirement for a blower door test. A blower door test has proven an effective tool in gauging building efficiency. A powerful fan is mounted into an exterior door’s frame, pulling air out of the house through all unsealed openings or cracks. Auditors sometimes use a smoke pencil to further detect air leaks toward determining the air infiltration of the building being inspected. Blower doors consist of a frame and flexible panel fitted into the doorway, a pressure gauge to measure pressure inside and outside a home, a variable-speed fan, and a manometer and hoses utilized to measure airflow.
Simply stated, this type of test determines the airtightness of a home. Professional energy auditors use blower door tests as a gauge of energy efficiency. Even short of a requirement, building owners should put a premium on such efficiencies—not only as part of one’s civic responsibility toward energy efficiency, but also to realize financial savings as a result.
Achieving the proper building tightness is essential for a number of reasons. Foremost, the measure helps reduce energy consumption due to air leakage—a major source of building inefficiency. A door blower test also helps to determine how best to avoid problems related to moisture or condensation and avoidance of air drafts caused by air leaks that allow wind to enter a building from outdoors. The building code changes in Illinois also are designed to help property owners ensure the air quality in their homes is not too contaminated by indoor air pollution.
If such requirements make you groan over what may seem like mounting government regulation, consider this: roughly 40 percent of all U.S. energy consumption is attributable to cooling and heating. Given this high level, energy efficiency is a worthwhile goal.
In Illinois, the goal of building code changes is to make homes 15 percent more energy efficient than those built under the same code three years ago. Seen in that light, Illinois is emerging as a leader in aggressively calling for energy efficiency. You might expect other states to take Illinois’ lead. Due to this, you need reliable industry partners at your side to keep you abreast of the latest changes—in any part of the country and even globally—as you will find at Burnham Nationwide.
Our professional staff is not only well-versed domestically, but internationally as well—with a full grasp of the International Code Council and its conservation code. Burnham Nationwide prides itself on informing its clients of the most up-to-date building code changes, along with all other aspects of regulation. You are invited to contact us for additional insight through our website at burnhamnationwide.com or by calling toll-free at (800) 407-7990.