Energy code changes coming; EV requirements in multifamily

Since August, a technical advisory group (TAG) has been working on reviewing the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) which will be incorporated into Minnesota’s Residential Energy Code in 2026.

In a letter to the TAG, Housing First Minnesota asked the group to keep housing affordability and access front of mind.

“Minnesota has long been recognized as a leader in energy-efficiency home construction,” the organization said in a letter. “Yet, we are a laggard in several critical housing affordability and accessibility metrics. Given the affordability issues and industry-leading efficiency ratings, this TAG must balance its approach and broaden its focus to include the affordability metric.”

As the group’s work has progressed, so has its charge. At the fall 2023 Construction Codes Advisory Council meeting, the body voted to open the Energy Code TAG’s work to review the 2024 IECC, in addition to the 2021.

Also at that meeting, the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) shared that in the next code cycle, Chapter 1322, the Residential Energy Code, will move to Chapter 1309, the Residential Building Code, when the new codes are adopted in 2026. Additional work will be done on residential-specific mechanical code requirements.

The group’s work is expected to continue into the second quarter of 2024 and the final code proposal will need to undergo a durability analysis.

Multifamily and commercial EV requirements

This past session, the Minnesota Legislature directed DLI to develop an electrical vehicle charger requirement for multifamily housing. In August and September, a TAG worked through a proposal that will be eventually added to the Commercial Energy Code, chapter 1323.

The proposed code change has three levels of chargers: Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Installed Space, which has an electric vehicle charger installed; Electric Vehicle Ready Space, which is ready for a charger to be plugged in at the parking space; and Electric Vehicle Capable Space, which has a conduit or raceway but still requires additional work to be classified as EVSE of EV-ready. The proposal includes a table that establishes the number of spaces required for each classification.

EV requirements will be specific to new construction and existing buildings being renovated under an occupancy classification change.

The changes will be included in the next commercial energy code review, will go into effect once that code is in effect in 2026, and will only be required in buildings subject to the commercial energy code.