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DECEMBER 2, 2011

Indiana Energy Code for Pre-1978 buildings - updated

No small amount of confusion remains regarding the 2010 Indiana Energy Conservation Code (InECC).  Under the General Administrative Rules, section 12-4-12 (j) provides an exemption from the requirements of the InECC  for alterations to buildings built prior to January 21, 1978.  It is not totally clear what the definition of "alterations" means.  At an energy code committee meeting held last December, the consensus was that the words alteration, rehabilitation, refurbishment and renovation all mean the same thing as it applies to the exemption. While this committee consensus does not carry the weight of the Commission, an action at last month's meeting seems to indicate that the Commission agrees.

At the July 2011 Fire and Building Services Commission meeting, the Commission further clarified in a ruling that Changes of Use also fall under the GAR pre-1978 exemption.  In the case of St.Alphonsus Catholic Church Parish Hall (#11-07-35 (b)) the Commission ruled that no variance was required for non-compliance with the 2010 InECC for a change of use to a church, parish hall and educational building built before 1978.  The project involved additions and renovations to several buildings, and a shuffling of spaces and uses from one building to another.

The line of reasoning was that other than the change of use, the pre-1978 exemption was clear for alterations of pre-1978 buildings. With staff noting that a change of use in and of itself did not necessarily even trigger a submission to state plan review, the Commission held that the change of use alone did not nullify section 12-4-12 (j).  The Commission did note that any additions to the existing buildings must comply with the new energy code.

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