State Laws You Should Know

Bill Ward, Executive Vice President, HBAI
2015 Illinois Energy Conservation Code
Effective January 1, 2016

Get ready, the new Illinois Energy Conservation Code has been approved and the effective date is January 1, 2016. Unlike the 2009 and 2012 code which, combined, raised the cost of construction in Illinois by an average of $16,000 per unit, HBAI welcomes the 2015 code as it brings new options to builders and minimizes construction cost increases.

For the first time since 2009, NAHB helped stop the regulatory binge at the International Code Council, while HBAI did the same with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (IDCEO). With two members now sitting on the Illinois Energy Code Advisory Council (IECAC), HBAI defeated all attempts by IDCEO to stay with the 2012 code. Later in the year and leading all the way up to late November, HBAI also checked state regulators from erasing and delaying sensible changes in the 2015 code.

Even after final approval of the code by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), a final ditch effort was made in late November by IDCEO officials and consultants to delay enactment of the code for six months, and reverse a new option to use the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rating system. But all of that was turned back by builders, code officials, engineers, and architects serving on the IECAC.

NAHB advised HBAI early this year to embrace the new code as long as certain changes in the code were incorporated. Don Surrena, Program Manager for the Energy Efficiency Construction Department at NAHB, drew a road map for HBAI that was successfully used by our appointees to the IECAC; Jason Huelsman and Allen Drewes.

Important Compliance Changes Include:

  • The Energy Rating Index (ERI) has been added as a third option for compliance. RESNET and the ICC now offer a HERS Index Video to explain how it works. The video is posted at: opposed this vehemently and refuses to include this in their state funded instruction seminars for builders and code officials.
  • Basement walls associated with conditioned basements shall have two options for required insulation: 1. Insulation from the top of the basement wall down to 10 feet below grade or to within six inches of the basement floor, whichever is less with an R-Value of 10/13 minimum; 2. Insulation from top of the basement down to 4 feet below grade when the basement wall R-Value is at least 15/19. IDCEO opposed the second option on the belief that most home builders would find this method too complicated to construct.
  • Air Leakage Rates shall be tested by a third party and verified as having an air leakage rate not exceeding five air exchanges per hour (ACH) in Climate Zones 4 and 5. The requirement for three air exchanges per hour was advocated by IDCEO.

This article highlights IDCEO’s reluctance to go forward with the 2015 code, and the major disagreements we had with them on its implementation. Please note that there are over 70 changes made by the ICC from the 2012 to the 2015 code. That’s a lot, but still a far cry from the 240 changes made from the 2009 to the 2012 code.

HBAI would like to thank the members of the IECAC who worked long and hard over the past several months to create a new code that is a great improvement over the previous code.  A special Home Builder thanks to Lisa Mattingly, Administrator for Professional Services with the Illinois Capital Development Board, for her leadership and extensive knowledge on the application of building codes within the residential and commercial construction industries.

Finally, did you know, whether a community enforces the Illinois Energy Conservation Code or not, Builders in Illinois are responsible for building to this statewide set of standards. Failure to do so could result in a civil action against a builder by the home owner resulting in fines and payment to upgrade to the standards set forth at the time of construction.

Want to know more about the ECC? Contact Don Surrena, Program Manager, Energy Efficiency, NAHB, (202) 266-8574, or

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, feel free to contact me at