Free Software for Energy Code Compliance
by Evan H. Shu, FAIA
As the many building codes in the United States struggle for standardization, energy consumption seems to be one area achieving consensus. Many states now base their energy code compliance on the Model Energy Code (MEC '92, '93, or '95) for residential buildings, and on ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90-1-1989 for commercial structures.
Free energy code compliance software is now available that architects can use to help shape their design, starting late in the schematic design phase. This development may be exciting to architects who like to have a handle on the whole building process rather than be overly dependent on their HVAC engineers.
Many states now allow a project report from this software to serve as a compliance report as part of the building permit document package.
You can download the free software from a site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). You can also call (800) 270-2633 to request the software on a CD-ROM.
There are two software programs, one for residential buildings of three stories or less, called MECcheck. The one for high-rise residential and commercial buildings is called COMcheck. When you go to the download Web site, look for customized variations of this software available for some states.
For COMcheck, there are the COMcheck-EZ and COMcheck-Plus versions. This software was developed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the direction of the DOE's Office of Codes and Standards.