City of Ithaca Energy Code Supplement Requires Net-Zero Construction by 2026
At the May 5, 2021, meeting of Common Council, the City of Ithaca adopted the Ithaca Energy Code Supplement (IECS), code requirements for new buildings and major renovations that will substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions while emphasizing affordability.
The rules, which became effective on August 4, 2021, require that all new buildings be constructed to produce 40% fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than those built to NYS code.
The IECS will become more stringent in 2023, requiring an 80% reduction in emissions. Starting in 2026, net-zero buildings that do not use fossil fuels will be required (with exceptions for cooking and process energy). Partly due to broad community support and the increasing urgency of global climate change, Common Council voted to accelerate the implementation timeline from the originally proposed step-up dates of 2025 and 2030.
The IECS offers the flexibility for builders to comply using the prescriptive Easy Path, which is a customized point-based system, or using the performance-based Whole Building Path. Using the Easy Path, GHG reductions are achieved from electrification of space and water heating (e.g., heat pumps), renewable energy (e.g., community solar), and affordability improvements which reduce construction costs (e.g., efficient building shape).
The Ithaca Energy Code Supplement is a major piece of the City’s Green New Deal (GND), which aims to achieve an equitable transition to carbon-neutrality community-wide by 2030. With the IECS now written into law, the City will soon be discussing other GND components, like the monumental task of shifting the entire community building stock, including all existing buildings, to become net-zero.