Frequently Asked Questions
As part of the Green Communities Act of 2008, Massachusetts has developed an optional second tier building code that gives cities and towns the ability to choose stronger energy performance in buildings. Known as the “Stretch Code”, it increases the energy efficiency code requirements beyond the existing International Energy Conservation Code (IEEC) presently in effect in Massachusetts.
1. Does the Stretch Code affect an existing house or a house that is for sale?
No. The Stretch Code has no effect on a house that is for sale. Also, historic buildings are exempt from both the base energy codes and the Stretch Code appendix to the energy code.
2. What construction projects would be impacted?
New construction of residential buildings three stories or less will be effected.
Substantial residential renovations that would normally trigger building code requirements are essentially the same in base and Stretch Code communities.
o Code requirements only apply to systems being altered in renovations/repairs. For example, if you are changing your windows, you need code-compliant new windows, but, if you are changing your heating system, you can keep your old windows. Replacing broken windows or storm windows does not trigger building code compliance requirements.
o If an addition is built, then the new code only applies to the addition.
• New commercial construction over 5,000 square feet floor area.
o New construction smaller than 5,000 square feet and “specialty” buildings (supermarkets, laboratories, and warehouses) below 40,000 square feet are exempt from Stretch code requirements but not from the baseline energy conservation code requirements.
3. How much more efficient would a building be if it was built to satisfy the Stretch Code?
New Residential 20 – 35% greater efficiency
New Commercial 20% more efficient
4. How would I comply with the Stretch Code?
If the project involves new construction, then it must follow the performance track which is based on a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rating – reached by measuring thermal elements. If the project involves a renovation, it can comply by following either the performance or prescriptive track (installing specific energy-efficient pre-rated components).
5. Will it save me money to comply with the Stretch Code?
Example: 2,700 sq. ft., 3-bedroom single family home
Upfront Extra Cost: $8,100 (@30-yr mortgage = $530/year)
Savings: $1,360/year (lower utility bills) Page 2 of 2
Net annual savings = $830/year. (This is the difference between the higher mortgage and lower utility bills.)
The entire upfront investment would be paid off in the first 10 years of the mortgage. Additional incentives from electric and gas utilities in Massachusetts, and energy efficient mortgage lending incentives add to savings.
Some case studies of commercial buildings have shown paybacks of 1 to 2 years.
6. When did the Stretch Code take effect in Wellfleet?
The Stretch Code can only go into effect on January 1st or July 1st. There must be at least six months between adoption and when the Stretch Code becomes mandatory. Therefore it became mandatory on January 1, 2015.
7. Why did Wellfleet adopt the Stretch Code?
Wellfleet applied to be designated as a Massachusetts Green Community which allows us to pursue opportunities to obtain additional funding opportunities for town projects. Adoption of the Stretch Code is required for Green Community Status.
8. What Massachusetts cities and towns have adopted the Stretch Code?
As of January 2017 198 towns have adopted the Stretch Code ). Provincetown and Truro have previously adopted this code.
9. If we adopt this now, will we always be subject to Stretch Code requirements?
Yes, municipalities who have previously adopted the Stretch Code automatically become Stretch Code communities when the next IECC base energy code is scheduled to take effect, unless a municipality chooses to rescind their Stretch Code adoption.
10. What are some of the expected benefits of a more stringent energy code?
Adopting the Stretch Code would mean that new construction and significant remodeling projects in Wellfleet would be more energy efficient, more valuable, and more desirable, saving money and conserving fuel. Adoption of the Stretch Code will also reduce Wellfleet’s production of greenhouse gases and carbon footprint.
11. How is the Stretch Code different from the existing “base” energy code?
The Stretch Code goes above and beyond the current state’s base building code.
It requires third-party testing to ensure the code is met or proof of installation of efficient building components.
Many of the changes are likely to be incorporated into the next IECC in 2012.
12. Does the town enact this or do the citizens vote on it?
This is an important addition to the building code. The Town seeks adoption of the Stretch Code as a general bylaw through a vote of Town Meeting.