IREC and our partners are committed to providing you with up-to-date, reliable, and vetted information that meets your needs. From 2022 to March 2024, our Question of the Week initiative provided weekly answers to clean energy questions from leading industry organizations under a U.S. Department of Energy “EMPOWERED” grant. While we are no longer adding additional questions and answers to this page, this library of questions contains a wealth of information for your reference. The answer to each question contains links to additional resources you can explore to learn more!

Browse Questions by Category

Solar PV

Performing a plan review for solar PV systems is crucial to ensuring safety, compliance, efficiency, and quality of the installation. It is important to consistently review plans to ensure that solar systems are installed properly and meet all necessary building codes and regulations.

Consider an example from Bakersfield, California where in one year when they received over 4,000 permit applications for residential PV systems, 13% of those applications did not meet the minimum code requirements for compliance issues for either structural or electrical requirements. 

Code officials are engaged in the building process from the initial plan to the finished product, and your work impacts every building in every community. Because of your commitment to building safety, our buildings stand, our communities prosper, and our homes are safe. Your thorough review of each PV system plan application matters.

Learn More:

In this Introduction course on Plan Review and Permitting for Residential PV Systems, get to know the primary tasks to confirm the code compliance of most residential roof-mounted PV systems prior to issuing a permit. 

Category: Solar PV
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

The approval of solar inspections is determined by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and/or the utility overseeing the project installation. The inspection ensures code compliance for safety of the solar PV system, aiming to verify compliance with the permitted plan set and manufacturers instructions, ensuring that the system adheres to the codes, prevents fire hazards, and should allow for efficient operation.

The inspection process encompasses two main categories: the electrical system and the structure. For the electrical system, inspectors look at the main service panel, checking for fire safety issues, proper grounding, wire types, connections to the systems, conduit sizing and supports, and compliance with approved plans and specifications. They also assess the location of disconnect switches. In the structural inspection, the focus is on the installation’s ability to withstand elemental forces, ensuring it does not pose risks to the home or occupants. Depending on your location, these factors may include wind, snow and/or seismic items, along with the weight of the PV panels and energy storage system (ESS) on the structure. The inspector reviews panel attachment, rail installation, and structural reinforcements, comparing them to approved plans.

Conducting thorough solar PV field inspections is essential for ensuring the optimal performance, safety, and durability of solar energy systems. With the rapid growth of the solar industry and many different system types and configurations it is more important than ever for building inspection personnel to understand these systems in order to ensure proper and effective field inspections.

Here is a link where you can learn more. In this free CEU bearing course series, join experienced inspectors from across the country as they show us how to make PV inspections efficient and effective. the Solar PV Field Inspection Basics Series covers system types and locations such as:

  • Microinverter systems in Massachusetts
  • DC-DC converter systems in Illinois
  • Rooftop system with energy storage in California
  • Ground mounted AC-coupled systems with energy storage in North Carolina
  • A 300 kW Commercial carport system in California 
Category: Solar PV
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Code officials play a critical role in ensuring that solar PV systems are installed correctly and safely. If PV systems are new to you, or you’re getting ready to inspect your first system, you’ll want to understand how rooftop PV works and your role in ensuring that safety regulations and requirements have been followed during the design and installation process. 

Learn More:

Take the next step with this resource, Preparing to Inspect Your First PV System, and learn the components of a typical system, relevant codes and standards, and permitting and inspection guides,and more.

Category: Solar PV
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Have you heard of rapid shutdown? Rapid shutdown is a crucial safety feature in solar electric systems, and it’s particularly significant for code officials like yourself who oversee construction and code compliance. It involves the rapid de-energization of solar arrays in emergency scenarios, ensuring the safety of first responders and maintenance personnel. Understanding and enforcing rapid shutdown requirements in accordance with the National Electric Code® (NEC®) is essential to ensure that solar installations in your jurisdiction meet safety standards and mitigate electrical hazards effectively.

Learn More:

In this 30-minute course, Plan Review and Permitting for Residential PV Systems, you will learn what the National Electric Code requires for achieving rapid shutdown in solar electric systems and practice reviewing a plan to ensure compliance. 

Category: Solar PV
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Code official and plans examiner review and approval of a solar PV system plan impacts the safety of the final installation. As a result, an accurate and comprehensive review is critical before issuing a permit. When it comes to the structural elements of a solar PV plan, you will want to focus on fire safety, structural attachments, and weather sealing.

Learn More:

In our free course on CleanEnergyTraining.org, Structural Elements: Plan Review & Permitting of Residential Rooftop Solar PV Systems, you will learn a three-phased approach to analyzing the compliance of structural attachments: 1) a prescriptive process that works for many systems when criteria for the area have been determined; 2) using a rafter span table for systems that don’t meet the determined criteria; and 3) understanding when an engineered drawing of the system should be required. You will also gain an understanding of how to distinguish between access pathways and setbacks to ensure safe and unobstructed access to solar panels for firefighters. Finally, you will learn to look for weather sealing details in the plan and base on what is acceptable for your jurisdiction according to the area climate conditions. 

This course serves as an introduction to a series that covers the permitting process for a residential solar PV system. Start today and gain the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively and efficiently inspect these types of systems in your jurisdiction.

Category: Solar PV
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Across the country, residential solar PV systems are being installed at a rapid pace. It is important for plan reviewers and inspectors to understand the design and installation of these systems to ensure safe and quality installations. There are three main areas of plan review and permitting: fire safety, structural, and electrical. 

When it comes to the electrical elements, one area of focus should be on how to verify that the grounding and bonding of the solar array and mounting system are in compliance with UL standards and National Electric Codes. It is important to understand how to:

  • Verify the solar module-rack fire classification
  • Verify the solar module-rack grounding and bonding
  • Verify AC and DC conductor sizing
  • Verify marking and labeling
  • …and more

Learn More

IREC has established a series of free CEU-bearing courses for building and safety officials focused on the plan review and permitting of solar PV systems. In this 3-hour course, Electrical Elements: Plan Review & Permitting of Residential Rooftop Solar PV Systems, you will practice how to perform tasks that will ensure a permit package has been thoroughly evaluated.

Category: Solar PV
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 2
Thumbs Down Icon 0

To inspect any system with batteries, at a minimum you should have voltage-rated gloves and safety glasses. Battery chemistry can range from flooded lead acid to lithium ion. The common factor is that a battery bank can store a lot of energy, and can discharge that current instantaneously. Have the right PPE for the job. And be sure to have a copy of the plan with you for all inspections. As more and more solar-plus-storage systems make their way into your jurisdiction, you will want to ensure a proper plan review before showing up on site for an inspection. This will help you ensure the system is designed to code, understand all the components configured in the system, and help you prepare what to bring on site for a safe and successful inspection.

Learn More

In this resource, take a tour of an inspection in Liberty, North Carolina of a ground mounted AC-coupled PV system with energy storage. The tour is led by IREC’s Joe Sarubbi and Rebekah Hren, Solar PV and Energy Storage Systems Subject Matter Expert and NEC Code Making Panel 4 Member.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Today, installing a solar electric system on the rooftop of a residential or commercial building makes good financial sense, helping you save energy, lower your electric bills, and reduce pollution. As you explore installing solar panels on your building, you will find you have many factors to consider, including your overall building energy use; determining if you have a suitable site to install solar; and understanding contracts and financial terms.

Learn More

This easy-to-read checklist puts important information in your hands that you need to know before entering into a contract to install a solar PV system.

Category: Solar PV
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Firefighters need to be aware of the potential hazards associated with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in order to safely perform their duties. Solar PV systems can present a number of safety risks to firefighters, including:

  • Electrical shock: There is the risk of electric shock if cables are cut or become damaged by fire. This includes cables from battery banks where these are used to store generated electricity.  
  • Fire risk: Solar PV systems pose fire risks just as any other electrical equipment does. Solar panels themselves have been proven to pose an extremely low fire hazard. However, Solar PV systems use electrical wiring and components, which can create a fire risk if they are damaged or malfunction.
  • Structural hazards: Should the roof of the building be affected by fire, then the additional mechanical loading due to the weight of PV panels, or additional wind-loading caused by the panels, may cause early collapse of the roof.
  • Photovoltaic shrapnel: Solar panels can shatter when exposed to extreme heat, creating shards of glass and other debris that can pose a risk to firefighters.

Learn More

For these reasons, it is important that firefighters are trained in how to safely approach and work around solar PV systems in order to minimize these risks. Boost your confidence when operating around solar PV systems by learning from an experienced fire chief. In this mini course, Solar PV Safety for Firefighters, there are 14 brief videos that describe the various solar PV components and provide case studies from which to learn. Watch how departments respond to incidents on solar-equipped structures, both residential and commercial.

Category: Solar PV
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

SolarAPP+ is designed to provide a code-compliance check for a number of residential solar systems with energy storage. Before starting a new project in SolarAPP+, confirm that the system complies with the Eligibility Checklist. When entering project information, have ready:

  • The design with exact model numbers of equipment that will be used
  • Specification or certification sheets
  • The payment method

Learn More

The SolarAPP+ tool is designed for quicker and more efficient issuance of permits. Join the growing number of jurisdictions across the country who have issued over 11,000 permits using the SolarApp+ platform. Visit the SolarAPP+ knowledge center to find all your SolarAPP+ answers and resources.

Category: Solar PV
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Standard permitting and inspection processes for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and energy storage systems (ESS) can vary greatly across local jurisdictions, increasing costs and extending project timelines for building officials, contractors, and system owners. For many residential projects, including rooftop PV systems up to 15 kilowatts (kW) and in some cases for ESS up to 80 kilowatt-hours (kWh), a simplified process can ensure that projects are safe, effective, and in compliance with universally adopted construction codes.

To streamline permitting, building officials can download a six-step checklist covering the information required for permitting review, electrical requirements, structural requirements, and more. For field inspections, building officials can download checklists that address notable installation requirements for PV systems and ESS. The inspection checklists can be customized with state and local requirements. Bill Brooks, an industry expert and principal engineer at Brooks Engineering, drafted each set of checklists with support from the Sustainable Energy Action Committee, SolSmart, and IREC.

Learn More:

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

SolarAPP+ is a web-based platform that streamlines the permitting process for solar energy projects. Solar permitting applications can be time consuming and resource intensive for local governments to review and approve. The high volume of these applications can lead to backlogs and delays in solar deployment. SolarAPP+ is a tool that helps accelerate solar deployment by allowing developers to check code compliance before submitting their designs for permit approval. This can help to reduce the workload for local governments and improve efficiency. The platform was developed and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2019, and is now in use in multiple states and jurisdictions. 

Learn More

In this mini course, you will learn how to use the inspection checklist from the SolarAPP+ tool to efficiently and effectively inspect a rooftop residential PV system with an energy storage system (ESS).

Category: Solar PV
Tag: Solar
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Solar energy systems can sometimes face more complicated and costly permitting processes in areas where permit reviewers are less familiar with the technology. A simplified process can help streamline the permitting of most residential rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems, including those with energy storage. This simplified process can help reduce informational barriers and ensure that all items in the inspection process have been adequately addressed before inspectors arrive on site.

Learn More

If you are a plan reviewer, inspector, or installer, these permitting and inspection guides from the New Buildings Institute provide an overview of code requirements for the installation of energy storage systems (stand-alone and paired with simple photovoltaic systems) in single-family, multifamily, and office buildings.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Energy storage systems (ESS) are becoming more common across the country. When inspecting a PV + ESS, there can be a lot of system components to review, from the modules, to inverters and disconnects, to the ESS itself. To ensure a safe and correct inspection, it is valuable to understand the system components you will encounter and how to refer to approved plans and installation manuals.

Learn More

In this instructional video, you will learn from Chief Electrical Inspector Pete Jackson about the ins and outs of a solar PV system with a string inverter and a Tesla PowerWall in Bakersfield, California. This video course will help you educate yourself about the components of the system and related codes and standards, as well as permitting and inspection guides.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 2
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Today, many jurisdictions have the option of saving time with automated validation for solar PV systems. Automated permitting streamlines the permitting process and ensures consistency during the validation of solar PV system designs. In 2021, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) worked with IREC and other partners to develop SolarAPP+, short for Solar Automated Permit Processing. This is an online automated design validation tool that can evaluate many new residential rooftop solar PV systems.

Learn More

Category: Solar PV
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 2
Thumbs Down Icon 0

To responsibly issue a permit for a safe residential solar PV system, the most important aspect to consider is the accurate validation of the system design. This validation need not take a lot of time, but the process should be consistently performed. The traditional approach to issuing a permit is manual system design validation. PV and energy storage systems must comply with jurisdictional building, electrical, and fire codes. One plans examiner may review and validate all aspects of the plan, or the plan may go to more than one department for review and approval.

Learn More

Category: Solar PV
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 3
Thumbs Down Icon 0

To verify a permit plan application for a residential rooftop solar PV system, the submitted plan must include at a minimum:

  • A site plan showing the location of the array along with the relative location of major components.
  • A 1-line electrical diagram that shows PV array configuration, conductors and conduit, overcurrent protection, inverter(s), disconnects, point of utility interconnection.
  • Specification sheets showing equipment listing and details for the modules, inverter, racking system, and other components as needed.
  • Installation manuals for system equipment and components as needed.

Learn More

This downloadable job-aid provides a basic checklist of items that should be considered when reviewing a permit plan application for a solar PV system.

Category: Solar PV
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 3
Thumbs Down Icon 0
High Performance Buildings

Heat pump technology is not new, but improvements in efficiency, along with city, state, and federal climate goals have dramatically increased their deployment across the country. Our guide, Frequently Asked Questions About Heat Pumps, contains questions most often asked about heat pumps and their role in transitioning to all-electric buildings that can be powered by clean energy. In this interactive resource, you will discover answers to topics such as:

  • What are the different types of heat pumps and how do they work? 
  • What are the benefits of heat pumps? 
  • How do heat pumps perform in cold climates? 
  • How do you  make sure your electrical service panel is correctly sized to your heat pump?
  • How can policymakers enable heat pumps in affordable housing? 
  • What incentives are available today for installing heat pumps? 
  • And much more!

Learn More

Get answers to your questions about heat pumps, an efficient option for electric heating and cooling! Download here: Frequently Asked Questions About Heat Pumps.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Efficiency, energy, and safety codes play a crucial role in fostering resilient communities across the country. Many jurisdictions have implemented effective strategies to enhance resilience in the face of various challenges. These strategies often include the adoption and enforcement of stringent building codes that prioritize energy efficiency and safety. Communities are increasingly focusing on sustainable practices by incorporating codes for efficient, EV-ready, and solar-ready buildings, and by promoting energy-efficient designs. By adhering to current codes, regions can better withstand environmental and safety risks. Additionally, community education and outreach programs play a vital role in raising awareness about the importance of resilience and encouraging compliance with established codes. Overall, a comprehensive approach that integrates efficient building practices, energy conservation measures, and robust safety codes contributes to the creation of resilient communities nationwide.

For a deeper dive into these topics and more, listen to experts from across the country in this recorded webinar on Efficiency, Energy, and Safety Codes: What Is Working Around the County to Foster Resilient Communities, and learn about strategies that you can implement in your jurisdiction to ensure a resilient and sustainable community.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

In order to create buildings that are energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, resilient, and contribute to the well-being of occupants, design and construction professionals must be well-versed in solid building science principles. 

Building science skills are the difference between buildings that will work or fail. Yet, there is no consistent platform for ensuring consistent building science skills across all professions engaged in the buildings sector. Now available, the Building Science Education (BSE) Solution Center is bridging this gap by providing professors, trainers and students with accurate, easy-to-access training materials on the fundamentals of building science.

Visit the BSE site today and access building science training modules for topics related to high-performance residential building systems and applications, including:

  • Lecture Notes
  • Teaching Materials
  • Problem Sets & Testing Materials
  • Supplementary information including videos, images and presentations
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Efficiently electrifying a commercial building involves a comprehensive approach. The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will accelerate electrification strategies in states and cities across the country. With this great opportunity comes the chance to learn best practices for scaling electrified building solutions safely, efficiently, and economically. 

Depending on your building, location and goals, the approach and strategies may differ. Early wins might include a detailed energy audit to pinpoint areas for improvement, as well as upgrading lighting, HVAC systems, and appliances for energy efficiency. Many commercial buildings can benefit from a centralized building energy management system to optimize control and real-time efficiency adjustments based on usage patterns. Where and when it makes sense, implementing renewable energy sources like solar panels and battery energy storage to reduce grid dependence can support electrification goals. 

In March of 2023, IREC gathered a group of experts to discuss these strategies and more. Listen to the recorded webinar and hear representatives from New Buildings Institute, Slipstream, National Grid and IMEG Corp discuss current topics such as:

  • How building codes and other policies can play a critical role in helping jurisdictions pursue carbon-neutral building policies and programs
  • Case studies of critical building-scale technology solutions and products that promise to help advance buildings toward carbon neutrality in new construction and retrofits
  • Electrification of the small- and medium-sized commercial and multifamily building sectors 
  • Challenges and opportunities that can arise in cold climates
  • How the New York State Clean Heat program is helping commercial building owners adopt cost-saving solutions

Access the entire recording or just the presentations that align with your interests and work at the Clean Energy Clearinghouse.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Air source heat pumps play a huge part in the effort to decarbonize our buildings. Heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners, and they can be powered by clean electric energy. But because they work by extracting heat from the cool outdoors to the inside of the house, many people think that the technology cannot work in very cold conditions. Luckily, the truth is in fact the opposite: a heat pump can efficiently work well even in sub zero temperatures! Some heat pumps designed to work in the cold climates now can handle -15° to -30° F.

Learn More:

Discover how air source heat pumps are transforming buildings in cold climates, including multifamily and commercial buildings with this recorded webinar: Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pumps—Efficacy and Building Readiness.

For technical details, take this free course from Slipstream, which has been monitoring heat pumps in cold climates like Wisconsin: Advancements in air source heat pump technology. 

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Building codes address critical societal concerns, including public health, safety, and environmental protection. Together, a suite of codes play a significant role in determining a building’s quality, safety, and energy efficiency for its entire lifespan. They also impact operational and maintenance costs, and provide a universal language for architects, engineers, builders, contractors, and inspectors.

Updated energy codes are significantly helping address energy issues by prioritizing efficiency in building design and construction. Communities using these updated codes benefit, and jurisdictions enforcing them enact positive change that enhances people’s lives and safety. 

Learn More:

Check out this graphic from the International Code Council (ICC) to see how the International Energy Conservation Code has evolved from 1983 to 2021!

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

As demand increases for efficient, resilient, and durable buildings, construction materials and technologies are rapidly evolving. Even external technologies that interact with buildings are changing: For example, Vehicle-to-Grid technology allows your electric vehicle car to discharge energy back into the grid, providing storage and load balancing. 

Learn More:

As a code official, keeping up-to-date on emerging trends and technologies can help you stay ahead of the curve. Watch this 5-minute video for an introduction to the grid-interactive efficient building (GEB). You will be inspecting these buildings and technologies before you know it!

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Energy codes have traditionally been a tool to reduce the energy consumption of new buildings and major renovations or alterations in older ones. The actual energy performance (kilowatt-hours of electricity, or therms of natural gas, for example) of existing buildings is not typically governed by an energy code and is often not considered from a code perspective unless the owner undertakes a renovation or a stand-alone energy efficiency upgrade (e.g., HVAC, lighting, etc.). Addressing the energy use of the existing building stock can help ensure inclusion of modern building practices and technologies that reduce energy waste and GHG emissions. 

Learn More:

In January 2023, the International Code Council published a 17-page Guide to Energy Codes and Building Performance Standards (BPS). Well-designed and correctly-implemented building performance policies and programs can help cities and states meet their GHG emissions reduction, resilience, and energy efficiency goals. This resource document provides background on BPS and how they are being implemented, plus opportunities for model energy codes and building code departments to support their implementation more effectively.

Download the free guide today!

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Whole Home Performance recognizes that a building is more than just its individual parts; it’s a holistic system where improvements in one area can have a cascading effect on the efficiency, comfort, and durability of the entire structure. Home performance contractors and weatherization experts conduct a thorough assessment of various factors within a property, including insulation, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, lighting, appliances, and structural integrity. The goal is to create an integrated system where all components work harmoniously to reduce energy consumption and improve overall comfort.

Learn More

Jason Peavey, an HVAC contractor in Georgia, subscribes to this whole home approach. His family-owned business first makes sure the building is weatherized before recommending heating and cooling system changes or upgrades. Listen to this 15-minute interview with Jason of PV Heating and Air share how his company is bringing whole home performance solutions to the southeast, increasing occupant comfort while lowering both investment and operating costs.

Gain additional information on home performance and learn more about segments and careers at the Building Performance Association website. If you are a contractor you can earn a Total Building Performance (TBP) Certificate designed to prepare individuals with the holistic knowledge to plan, manage, and deliver whole-building retrofits.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 1
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Are you a facility operator, energy manager, or part of the e facility management engineering or project management teams? If so, you’ve likely come across ASHRAE Guideline 36-2021, High-Performance Sequences of Operation for HVAC Systems. This guideline is the industry’s first attempt to standardize best-in-class building control sequences for energy savings and more efficient building control system specification, design, and implementation.

ASHRAE Guideline 36 provides a set of standardized advanced sequences of operation for common HVAC systems. These sequences are designed to maximize the energy efficiency and performance of HVAC systems, while also meeting ASHRAE occupant thermal comfort and ventilation standards, providing control stability, and allowing for simple real-time fault detection for air handling units. More importantly, with more and more building control system manufacturers adopting the guideline, control program “libraries,” or templates that comply with the guideline, are now available for control contractors to use in projects. This can greatly reduce the time and effort of building control software implementation while minimizing the programming errors. 

Learn More:

If you are looking for ways to improve the energy efficiency of your HVAC systems, we encourage you to listen in to this recorded webinar ASHRAE Guideline 36: High-Performance Sequences of Operation for HVAC Systems, where we focus on the  intent, benefits, and scope of ASHRAE Guideline 36, as well as the stakeholders involved in designing and implementing the guideline. The webinar also highlights the key control sequence concepts that have the greatest impact on energy savings in this guideline, including AHU static pressure resets through trim and respond method, dual-max controls for VAV terminal unit with reheat, and automated fault detection and diagnostics (AFDD) for air handling units. Finally, we discuss how to screen your buildings to see if they are a good candidate for a controls retrofit leveraging Guideline 36. Tune in today and learn from our expert presenters.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 1
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Commercial buildings have the potential to lead the way to a decarbonized, electrified future. The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will accelerate these efforts in states and cities across the country. With this great opportunity comes the chance to learn best practices for scaling electrified building solutions safely, efficiently, and economically. 

In our webinar, Commercial Building Electrification Pathways, experts from across the country discuss successful strategies for commercial building electrification being adopted today. Listen in to representatives from New Buildings Institute, Slipstream, National Grid and IMEG Corp as they discuss current topics such as:

  • How building codes and other policies can play a critical role in helping jurisdictions pursue carbon-neutral building policies and programs
  • Case studies of critical building-scale technology solutions and products that promise to help advance buildings toward carbon neutrality in new construction and retrofits
  • Electrification of the small- and medium-sized commercial and multifamily building sectors 
  • Challenges and opportunities that can arise in cold climates
  • How the New York State Clean Heat program is helping commercial building owners adopt cost-saving solutions

Learn More

Access the entire recording in one sitting at the Clean Energy Clearinghouse, or, if you prefer to tune in to the segments that align with your interests and work, you can do so in our learning management system, CleanEnergyTraining.org.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Residential building electrification is a complex and rapidly evolving topic, and there are many questions and challenges that need to be addressed as we transition toward a more sustainable and decarbonized energy system. Home owners, code officials, and policy makers can consider some of the following opportunities as we begin to electrify more and more of our homes. 

  1. Consider the most cost-effective way to electrify residential buildings. This includes not only the cost of the necessary equipment and infrastructure, but also the long-term operating costs and the impact on the electric grid. Cost-effective electrification can also include reducing building loads, such as upgrading home insulation or retrofitting windows to lower heating loads before they are electrified.
  2. Ensure that electrification efforts are equitable and accessible to all households, including low-income and marginalized communities.
  3. Find solutions to streamline the integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar and energy storage, into residential electrification efforts.
  4. Understand how we can manage the impact of electrification on existing building infrastructure, including wiring, electrical panels, and heating and cooling systems.
  5. Become aware of the incentives and policies available to encourage adoption of electric appliances and heating and cooling systems.
  6. Ensure that the necessary workforce is available and trained to support residential building electrification, including electricians, contractors, and HVAC technicians

Learn More

Addressing these questions and challenges will be critical to the successful electrification of residential buildings and the transition to a more sustainable and decarbonized energy system.For a deeper dive into these topics and more, listen to experts from across the country in this recorded webinar on Residential Building Electrification. You can expect to learn about common issues that building owners and code officials may notice  and how to resolve them; the role heat pump space and water heating technology play in the transition;, and how the SolSmart program can help communities improve permitting and inspection processes to support electrification with solar power.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Technological advancements have revolutionized the building construction and safety industry, resulting in increased efficiency and accuracy in achieving safe and resilient communities. Governments at various levels have incorporated digitization into their processes, such as online permit applications, payment of permit fees, submittal of plans, and digital plan reviews. Remote virtual inspections (RVI) have become increasingly popular in recent years and offer a valuable solution that offers numerous benefits for the building construction and safety industry, including increased efficiency, convenience, safety, accuracy, and consistency.

Learn More:

The International Code Council (ICC) has developed a detailed publication, Recommended Practices for Remote Virtual Inspections (RVI), which provides comprehensive guidance on RVI implementation and administration, making it easy for Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) to incorporate these procedures into their inspection processes. You can also get access to a free checklist, Remote Virtual Inspection Protocols and Checklist for Residential Energy Code Inspections, which covers the process for inspecting residential projects complying with the 2018 or 2021 International Energy Conservation Code

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 2
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Implementing a building control system in the field can involve a mechanical engineer, controls engineer, controls technician, electrical contractor, testing and balancing contractor, and commissioning agent. Understanding the relationship between all these roles can go a long way toward helping a project go smoothly.

Learn More

In this CEU bearing course, you will learn how facility staff can participate during the controls implementation process and how an understanding of the implementation process can improve the long-term performance of the control system and the building in general. 

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Building electrification is the process of moving from fossil fuel-powered buildings to electric-powered buildings. Systems within the electrified building, such as space heating, water heating, cooking appliances, and laundry, would be powered by electricity. These are necessary steps for buildings to achieve 100 percent clean, renewable energy and align with state and municipal climate goals. Cities, counties, and states will have different approaches to policies and incentives toward implementing an electric-only strategy. Already, a quarter of U.S. homes are all-electric, and across the country many communities are adopting ordinances as an update to their adopted energy codes.

Learn More

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, through this report, has put together examples of municipalities with some level of electrification requirements for new residential and commercial buildings, as well as specific proposed code language that any community can adopt to help reach zero carbon in new buildings. Check it out!

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Explore this Question of the Week

As demand increases for efficient, resilient, and durable buildings, construction materials and technologies are rapidly evolving. There are multiple clean energy technologies that we will begin to see more widely on buildings as a result of the growing clean energy industry and federal funding.

Learn More

This five-minute video provides an introduction to grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEB) and associated clean energy technologies.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 2
Thumbs Down Icon 0
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment

Interconnecting EV chargers to the grid involves steps that a customer or developer must follow to secure utility service and safely begin operation— similar to connecting other types of load, such as new residential or commercial buildings.

The process and complexity of connecting charging equipment to the grid can vary based on the type of charging infrastructure. The different types of chargers serve a variety of purposes, including charging at a home or workplace where a car will be parked for longer durations (Level 1 or Level 2), charging in a commercial area or parking lot when parked for shorter periods (Level 2 or DC Fast Charger), or high speed charging during long distance trips (DCFC).

Due to potential delays at any step of the process, charger interconnection timelines can vary widely from one project to the next. This creates uncertainty for project developers and slows down the transition to electrified transportation.

Learn More

In this paper produced by IREC, Paving the Way: Emerging Best Practices for Electric Vehicle Charger Interconnection, we highlight the interconnection process, identify the challenges to EVSE interconnection, and  discuss the strategies that states and utilities can use to streamline the process to adding EV charging infrastructure.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 1
Thumbs Down Icon 0

If you are a building owner, you have almost certainly been asked about installing a charger for electric vehicles (EVs). These quiet, reliable, and efficient vehicles are growing in number and popularity. The interactive resource linked below is designed to introduce building owners of multi-unit dwellings (MUDs) to the basic requirements associated with installing electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). You can get started today by learning more about the costs and benefits of installing an electric vehicle charging station at your property.

Learn More:

This resource for building owners covers the basic requirements associated with installing electric vehicle chargers.

Dive further with the Toolkit for Vehicle Charging at Multi-Unit Dwellings from Forth Mobility.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Given the increased frequency of natural disasters, many have wondered about temporary ways to power their home while waiting for utility grid power to be restored. Some manufacturers have equipped their new electric vehicles with the capability to do just that. 

There are several ways in which the industry is referring to these capabilities. Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) is the broader term used to describe the storage of energy within an EV and its ability to supply power for particular end uses. Those end uses include buildings (V2B), homes (V2H), load (V2L), and the grid (V2G). Vehicle to grid (V2G) is not yet in use throughout the U.S., but the technology, equipment, and related codes and standards recognize the possibility. 

Learn More:

View this short course that summarizes the key points of V2H, V2G, and V2X.. Are you interested in the comprehensive technical details? Read the report produced by IREC in January 2022: Paving the Way: Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Standards for Electric Vehicles.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

To adapt zoning regulations for EV chargers effectively, and streamline processes while reducing staff workload, municipalities can turn to the recently published guidance document by SEAC, RMI, and IREC. The document addresses the increasing demand for millions of EV chargers and emphasizes the need for transparent and predictable requirements for charger installation and approval processes. By providing local code officials with clear guidelines and recommendations on common planning and zoning challenges such as permitted accessory use, parking, accessibility, design, and aesthetics, the document enables smoother and more efficient decision-making. It also offers sample code text on zoning and parking, ensuring standardized approaches. Furthermore, by incorporating equitable access to on-street public charging for households without off-street parking, and defining key terms like EV-Capable, EV-Ready, and EVSE Installed, municipalities can ensure inclusivity and clarity.  Embracing this guidance will empower municipalities to proactively plan for EV charger deployment, reduce the involvement of multiple parties, and streamline the approval process, ultimately easing the workload on municipal staff members.

Learn More

Download this guidance document today: Planning and Zoning for Electric Vehicle Charger Deployment.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

In many parts of the United States, navigating building permits required for distributed energy resources such as solar, storage, and electric vehicles (EVs) can be a daunting process.  Under a three-year project funded by the Department of Energy, the New Buildings Institute (NBI, an EMPOWERED partner) has led the development of a series of guidelines to streamline the permitting and inspection processes for distributed energy resources like electric vehicle supply equipment and battery energy storage systems.

If your jurisdiction is seeing an increase of EV charger installations, you can benefit greatly from these guidelines, which provide an overview of code requirements for the installation of electric vehicle supply equipment in single family, multifamily, and office buildings. By providing specific and replicable lists of permitting and inspection requirements, local jurisdictions can streamline the permitting and inspection process, reducing informational barriers while helping ensure that the design and installation of these distributed energy resources are consistent, code compliant, and safe.

Learn More

Download the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Permitting & Inspection Guidelines here.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 1
Thumbs Down Icon 0

The permitting process for EVSE can be lengthy and fraught with delays, often due to unfamiliarity with the technology, extended zoning reviews, or ill-defined permitting requirements. There are some clear steps that towns and cities can take to help streamline the EVSE permitting and inspection process. Some of these steps might include:

  1. Avoid lengthy zoning reviews and classify EV charging stations as an accessory use to the principal use of the site.
  2. Amend local ordinances to count parking spaces for EV charging toward minimum parking requirements.
  3. Offer training and education to building officials and inspectors to increase their familiarity with EVSE technology and installation requirements. This will help ensure that inspections are conducted efficiently and that installers consistently enforce installations for code compliance.
  4. Combine permit application requirements along with helpful guidance into a single checklist document and make this available online. 
  5. Process permit application approvals and conduct field inspections in a timely manner. An online permit approval process may aid in reducing permit approval timelines.

Learn More

These are just a few steps that jurisdictions can take to streamline the EVSE permitting and inspection process, reduce barriers to EV adoption, and encourage the development of EV charging infrastructure.une in and watch this recorded webinar on The Possibilities of EV Charging to learn more about this subject and understand funding options available to install charging stations at your property. The webinar includes examples and case studies of successful EV charging infrastructure,Standard EVSE checklists are available on New Building Institute’s (NBI) website.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Updating municipal codes to accelerate EV readiness can help remove barriers and encourage the adoption of electric vehicles. By updating codes to allow for the installation of EV charging infrastructure, for example, cities can make it easier for residents and businesses to own and use electric vehicles. Similarly, by updating building codes to require new construction to include provisions for EV charging, cities can ensure that new developments are “EV ready,” which can make it easier for future electric vehicle owners to charge their vehicles at home or at work. Updating codes can also help to ensure that electric vehicle infrastructure is built to a high standard and is compatible with the needs of electric vehicle owners.

Learn More:

Learn more about how cities can advance EV adoption by lowering barriers through this report from Forth: Pulling the Right Levers: How Cities Can Advance EV Adoption by Lowering Barriers.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

To meet transportation electrification goals and the increasing demand for EV charging options, states, utilities, and local governments will need to adopt policies that can streamline the process for connecting EV charging infrastructure to the grid. Delays at different stages of the process currently create uncertainty for project developers and slow down the transition to electrified transportation. The main factors that contribute to these delays include 1) interconnection process delays, 2) difficulties obtaining easements (which grant utilities the right to install, access, and service electrical equipment on a property), and 3) slow permitting processes.

States and local governments across the country are implementing best practices to help streamline the interconnection process. A few of these include 1) utilities ensuring that any staff working on EV infrastructure projects have charger-specific knowledge, 2) state legislatures requiring utilities to implement programs that allow for more cost- and time-efficient charger interconnections like “make-ready” programs, and 3) AHJs ensuring that information about the permitting process, including a list of any materials required to be submitted along with a permit request, is online and easy to find.

Learn More

These best practices and more can be read about in this IREC report, Paving the Way: Emerging Best Practices for Electric Vehicle Charger Interconnection, which can be used as guidance for jurisdictions looking to enable the rapid deployment of EV chargers.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

While the electric vehicle (EV) market is still at a relatively early stage of development, EVs are fast gaining popularity and market share. Car manufacturers have plans in place for fleet rollout over the coming years, and federal governments the world over are putting in place policies to make the EV adoption path more attainable. The electric vehicle story is most certainly going to accelerate, and like any disruptive technology there is no shortage of exciting challenges that everyone involved in the ecosystem will get to solve. It will take everyone from policymakers, to utilities, to building owners, to code and safety officials, to the consumers themselves to ensure a successful transition. 

Making the decision to provide access to EV charging infrastructure at your commercial building is one of those challenges that requires a sound strategy for positive deployment. First, you should recognize that installing EV chargers can bring a number of benefits, including attracting and retaining EV driving tenants; supporting residents in purchasing or leasing EVs through greater awareness and access to charging infrastructure; increasing your property values; and more. Before installing commercial EV charging stations, it’s imperative that you consider several factors, including charger type, station location, and your long-term business goals.

Learn More

If you want to learn more about these factors and other topics like funding options and case studies of successful EV charging infrastructure, check out this 60-minute IREC webinar on The Possibilities of EV Charging.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Are you interested in installing electric vehicle charging equipment at your building? If you are a building owner, you have almost certainly been asked about installing a charger for electric vehicles (EVs). These quiet, reliable, and efficient vehicles are growing in number and popularity. The interactive resource linked below is designed to introduce building owners of multi-unit dwellings (MUDs) to the basic requirements associated with installing electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). You can get started today by learning more about the costs and benefits of installing an electric vehicle charging station at your site.

Learn More

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Given the increased frequency of natural disasters, many have wondered about temporary ways to power their home while waiting for utility grid power to be restored. Some car manufacturers describe this capability. A little background: Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) is the broader term used to describe the storage of energy within an EV and its ability to supply power for particular end uses, including buildings (V2B), homes (V2H), load (V2L), and the grid (V2G). Vehicle to grid (V2G) is not yet in use throughout the U.S., but the technology, equipment, and related codes and standards recognize the possibility.

Learn More

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 2
Thumbs Down Icon 0

With more than 25 million electric vehicles expected to be on U.S. roads by 2020, questions about charging are common. EV charging is completely safe when the installation is in conformance with the relevant installation codes, U.S. product safety standards, and manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Learn More

  • Check out this short course if you’re interested in learning the facts about the codes and standards that govern the safe installation of electric vehicle supply equipment. 
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 2
Thumbs Down Icon 0
Energy Storage Systems

In many parts of the United States, navigating building permits required for battery energy storage systems (BESS) can be a daunting process.  Under a three-year project funded by the Department of Energy, New Buildings Institute (NBI; an EMPOWERED partner) has led the development of a series of guidelines to streamline the permitting and inspection processes for solar-plus-storage systems.

These guidelines provide an overview of code requirements for the installation of energy storage systems (standalone and paired with simple photovoltaic systems) in single-family, multifamily, and commercial/office buildings. By providing specific and replicable lists of requirements, local jurisdictions can streamline the permitting and inspection process by reducing informational barriers while helping ensure the design and installation of these distributed energy resources are consistent, code compliant, and safe.

These guides can help educate building department staff to better problem-solve when permitting and inspecting solar-plus-storage systems. Having these checklists available in the field can go  a long way to more efficient adoption of clean energy technologies. Learn more and download the Solar-Plus-Storage Permitting & Inspection Guidelines today!

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Being energy storage-ready means allocating space in buildings for future placement of battery energy storage system (BESS) components, including batteries, inverters, conduits, and raceways. In energy storage-ready design and construction, you facilitate easy connection from an electric service panelboard to the BESS space and potential locations for PV panels and other renewable energy equipment. Retrofitting homes with BESS can be costly and complicated due to space requirements, replacement of existing equipment, and other considerations. Builders can reduce future expenses for homeowners by adopting storage-ready construction.

The Sustainable Energy Action Committee (SEAC) Storage Snapshot Working Group recently published a document on how to make new construction energy storage-ready and how to make retrofitting energy storage more cost effective. Key concepts include:

  • Factors to consider in energy storage system (ESS) design
  • Location and space considerations
  • Interconnection

Combining input from manufacturers, contractors, industry professionals, and fire-safety officials, the document is a non-technical guide meant for architects and contractors working on new construction and renovations. Download the guidance document today. Energy Storage-Ready Residential Design and Construction

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

In today’s dynamic energy environment, new methods have emerged for managing power sources and their integration into building wiring systems, as well as exporting surplus electricity generated onsite back into the utility grid. For example, as more energy storage systems are being installed, technology has advanced to keep up with the evolving energy landscape. The speed of adoption has created some misunderstandings as to what a“transfer” switch is. 

A stand-by generator is typically connected through a transfer switch. These units are neither synchronized with, nor are they ever connected to, the utility grid. The load is supplied by either the generator or the utility, but never both sources. 

By contrast, a utility-interactive energy storage system is synchronized with the utility and always connected to both the load and the utility unless the utility is de-energized. If the utility grid goes down a microgrid interconnect device (MID) isolates the utility source. This MID acts differently than a transfer switch. 

Incorrect installations can result when the distinction between parallel power production sources like an energy storage system, and a generator-based optional standby system connected through a transfer switch, is not fully understood. 

Read More:

This short course, Energy Storage Systems and Generators: Some Critical Distinctions, will clarify when a system is able to produce electricity in parallel with the grid and highlight the applicable code requirements for utility-interactive interconnected energy storage systems.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

As battery energy storage systems (BESS) become more prevalent, pre-incident planning holds a pivotal role in ensuring effective and safe emergency response. By proactively familiarizing fire service professionals with the intricacies of BESS installations, potential risks, and emergency protocols, pre-incident planning equips responders with critical knowledge. Understanding battery technology, storage locations, shut-off procedures, and containment measures enables firefighters to make informed decisions during emergencies, minimizing the risk of catastrophic incidents and enhancing their ability to protect lives and property. Incorporating pre-incident planning for battery-related incidents is not just about adapting to a changing energy landscape; it’s about empowering fire service professionals to confidently navigate the evolving challenges of firefighting in an electrifying world.

Learn More:

The American Clean Power Association recently released guidance for first responders, the First Responders Guide to Lithium-Ion  Battery Energy Storage System Incidents. This guide provides recommendations for pre-incident planning and incident response specific to ESS with lithium-ion batteries, and also covers hazards including fire, explosion, arc flash, shock, and toxic chemicals. Use this guide to invest in your training and be prepared as the energy industry transforms!

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

To inspect any system with batteries, at a minimum you should have voltage-rated gloves and safety glasses. Battery chemistry can range from flooded lead acid to lithium ion. The common factor is that a battery bank can store a lot of energy, and can discharge that current instantaneously. Have the right PPE for the job. And be sure to have a copy of the plan with you for all inspections. As more and more solar-plus-storage systems make their way into your jurisdiction, you will want to ensure a proper plan review before showing up on site for an inspection. This will help you ensure the system is designed to code, understand all the components configured in the system, and help you prepare what to bring on site for a safe and successful inspection.

Learn More

In this resource, take a tour of an inspection in Liberty, North Carolina of a ground mounted AC-coupled PV system with energy storage. The tour is led by IREC’s Joe Sarubbi and Rebekah Hren, Solar PV and Energy Storage Systems Subject Matter Expert and NEC Code Making Panel 4 Member.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

The International Residential Code (IRC) serves as a complete, comprehensive code regulating the construction of single-family houses, two-family houses (duplexes), and buildings consisting of three or more townhouse units. All buildings within the scope of the IRC are limited to three stories above grade plane. Section R328 of the IRC covers ESS, specifically the requirements focused on product safety standard listing, code-required marking, and clarifying allowable locations.

Learn More

The following informational bulletin developed by the Sustainable Energy Action Committee (SEAC) provides a quick reference on these important requirements.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Standard permitting and inspection processes for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and energy storage systems (ESS) can vary greatly across local jurisdictions, increasing costs and extending project timelines for building officials, contractors, and system owners. For many residential projects, including rooftop PV systems up to 15 kilowatts (kW) and in some cases for ESS up to 80 kilowatt-hours (kWh), a simplified process can ensure that projects are safe, effective, and in compliance with universally adopted construction codes.

To streamline permitting, building officials can download a six-step checklist covering the information required for permitting review, electrical requirements, structural requirements, and more. For field inspections, building officials can download checklists that address notable installation requirements for PV systems and ESS. The inspection checklists can be customized with state and local requirements. Bill Brooks, an industry expert and principal engineer at Brooks Engineering, drafted each set of checklists with support from the Sustainable Energy Action Committee, SolSmart, and IREC.

Learn More:

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Solar energy systems can sometimes face more complicated and costly permitting processes in areas where permit reviewers are less familiar with the technology. A simplified process can help streamline the permitting of most residential rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems, including those with energy storage. This simplified process can help reduce informational barriers and ensure that all items in the inspection process have been adequately addressed before inspectors arrive on site.

Learn More

If you are a plan reviewer, inspector, or installer, these permitting and inspection guides from the New Buildings Institute provide an overview of code requirements for the installation of energy storage systems (stand-alone and paired with simple photovoltaic systems) in single-family, multifamily, and office buildings.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Energy storage systems (ESS) are becoming more common across the country. When inspecting a PV + ESS, there can be a lot of system components to review, from the modules, to inverters and disconnects, to the ESS itself. To ensure a safe and correct inspection, it is valuable to understand the system components you will encounter and how to refer to approved plans and installation manuals.

Learn More

In this instructional video, you will learn from Chief Electrical Inspector Pete Jackson about the ins and outs of a solar PV system with a string inverter and a Tesla PowerWall in Bakersfield, California. This video course will help you educate yourself about the components of the system and related codes and standards, as well as permitting and inspection guides.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 2
Thumbs Down Icon 0

With the prevalence of energy storage system (ESS) installations, codes and standards have been updated to address the technology. Product standards like UL 9540 and testing like 9540A allow for safer installation of energy storage systems.

The codes and standards require electrochemical ESSs to be listed in accordance with UL 9540, the Standard for Safety of Energy Storage Systems and Equipment, which was first introduced in November 2016. The terminology can be a bit confusing. UL 9540 is a system listing, and is not for components. UL 9540A is a testing method, not a listing or certification. The combination of product standards and testing provide confidence in the safety of the systems for both authorities having jurisdictions and consumers.

Learn More

  • Listen to this webinar to hear a California Fire Marshal and an advisor to a DOE national lab discuss the standards in practical terms. 
  • Read the informational bulletin from an Industry Working Group: UL 9540A Fire Test Standard for Battery Energy Storage Systems.
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Permit applications are on the rise for residential energy storage systems in jurisdictions across the country. In some cases, building departments are seeing these systems for the first time. The permitting and inspection of an energy storage system extends beyond just the National Electrical Code® (NEC). The permit application should be reviewed by the wiring or electrical inspector and also inspectors for building and fire code compliance.

  • Download a guide to multiple codes related to ESS Guide: Energy Storage Systems: Based on the IBC®, IFC®, IRC® and NEC®
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 2
Thumbs Down Icon 0

With the prevalence of energy storage systems (ESS), particularly battery energy storage systems (BESS), this question is asked by authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ) across the country.

For one-two family dwelling units, BESS are permitted for installation in detached garages/accessory structures, attached garages separated from the dwelling in accordance with International Residential Code® IRC® R302.6 (occupancy separation), and enclosed utility closets, basements, storage or utility spaces with finished or non-combustible walls. The BESS cannot be installed in habitable spaces of dwelling units including sleeping rooms, spaces opening directly into sleeping rooms and closets. If installed on the exterior of a dwelling unit, the ESS must be located at least 3 feet from doors and windows.

For commercial buildings, BESS are permitted for installation in any indoor area of the building, subject to size limitations, enclosure requirements, separation, ventilation, and fire detection and control. There are separate requirements for rooftop, exterior, and parking garage installations. For systems above 600 kWh storage capacity, a dedicated ESS building is typically required.  NFPA® 855 is another standard for installation of stationary ESS.

Learn More

  • View this recorded webinar to hear a discussion between a California Fire Marshal and an advisor to a DOE national lab on energy storage system safety. Recorded webinar.
  • Take a mini-course about the basics of energy storage systems.
  • Download a guide to multiple codes related to ESS Guide: Energy Storage Systems: Based on the IBC®, IFC®, IRC® and NEC® hear a discussion between a California Fire Marshal and an advisor to a DOE national lab on energy storage system safety.
Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 2
Thumbs Down Icon 0
Clean Energy Careers

The clean energy industry offers significant job creation and carbon reduction prospects nationwide. Already, nearly 2.2 million Americans are employed by the energy efficiency sector and over 255,000 people are employed in the solar energy industry. As these industries grow to achieve America’s carbon reduction goals, we must also work to build a more inclusive and highly-trained workforce for a just transition to a low-carbon economy.

The National Clean Energy Workforce Alliance, a forum uniting more than 500 stakeholders across the U.S. focused on increasing investment in the clean energy workforce, has identified strategies to improve recruitment, education, and placement outcomes with a focus on energy justice. Highlighted in a report released in 2023, Key Recommendations: Cultivating a Diverse and Skilled Talent Pipeline for the Equitable Transition, the Alliance identified some key findings that are all part of the collective actions moving forward. These include:

  • Developing and promoting career pathways for an inclusive workforce, such as expanding apprenticeship opportunities and developing partnerships to connect with underserved communities
  • Integrating clean energy into existing education and professional development pathways
  • Driving recruitment and retention by prioritizing hiring, onboarding, and retention policies
  • Supporting comprehensive clean energy workforce data collection and analysis

Help Shape the Clean Energy Workforce of the Future and join the National Clean Energy Workforce Alliance.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is poised to expand the implementation of clean energy solutions and a widespread reduction in energy costs. Thoughtful and localized execution of this groundbreaking climate investment can propel us towards achieving emissions reduction targets, concurrently yielding economic, health, and equity benefits within our communities. As we deploy more technologies like solar energy, heat pumps, and electric vehicles, it’s important for local building officials to stay up-to-date and have the latest information on clean energy technology deployment and safety.

The Clean Energy Clearinghouse offers the latest information and expert-vetted resources to make sure you get the answers to all of your clean energy questions—for free! Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and coordinated by IREC and partners including the International Code Council (ICC), Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), National Association of State Fire Marshalls (NASFM), and more, the Clearinghouse is a one-stop shop for the latest clean energy information. 

Whether you’re just getting started in the industry or have years of experience, the Clean Energy Clearinghouse is your one-stop shop to stay current with the latest codes and standards for the safe installation and operation of clean energy systems, and earn CEUs with free online courses. Visit www.cleanenergyclearinghouse.org today!

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

With recent and historic federal funding for the clean energy industry, the opportunities for job creation and carbon reductions are enormous. Already, nearly 2.2 million Americans are employed by the energy efficiency sector and over 255,000 people are employed in the solar energy industry. 

To meet carbon reduction goals, we have our work cut out for us to overcome workforce challenges, and build a vastly larger and more inclusive pipeline of highly-trained workers prepared to deliver on the promise of a just transition to a low-carbon economy.

The National Clean Energy Workforce Alliance, a forum uniting more than 500 stakeholders across the U.S., was formed to call for increased investment in workforce development and greater coordination among local, regional, and national entities to support the growth of high-quality job opportunities in the clean energy industries, with a focus on the inclusion of diverse and underrepresented populations.

The Alliance has identified strategies and recommendations to improve recruitment, education, and placement outcomes with a focus on energy justice, all laid out in a report released in February of 2023. Some of the key findings in this report include: 

  • Developing and promoting career pathways for an inclusive workforce, such as expanding apprenticeship opportunities and developing partnerships to connect with underserved communities
  • How to integrate clean energy into existing education and professional development pathways
  • Driving recruitment and retention by prioritizing hiring, onboarding and retention policies
  • Supporting comprehensive clean energy workforce data collection and analysis

…and many more key recommendations and strategies for cultivating a diverse and skilled pipeline for an equitable transition to clean energy.

Learn More

Gain further insights and learn how you can get involved by downloading the report, Cultivating a Diverse and Skilled Talent Pipeline for the Equitable Transition.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Clean energy jobs, including energy efficiency, solar, and HVAC/R jobs, are in high demand across the country. Within each industry, there are dozens of high-quality, good-paying jobs and career pathways to choose from. Deciding on one that fits your career goals and interests can be a challenge. With the support of state and federal funds, IREC has created three interactive career maps that showcase the breadth of jobs in the green building and energy efficiency, solar, and HVAC/R industries. These Career Maps showcase over 150 job positions including brief descriptions of the job, recommended credentials and training, salary ranges, and hundreds of possible advancement routes. The Career Maps are free, online resources that educators, career advisors, job seekers, employers, policymakers, and workforce professionals can use to explore the many diverse jobs offered across the growing clean energy industry.

Learn More:

To access these career maps, visit Clean Energy Career Maps. You can also learn more about the Green Buildings Career Map and watch a recorded webinar where IREC explains in detail how to use all of the many features to best suit your goals.

Did you find this FAQ helpful?
Thumbs Up Icon 0
Thumbs Down Icon 0

Looking for further information about high performance buildings, energy storage, solar, and more? Visit the Clean Energy Clearinghouse for an expanded list of expert resources and CEUs:

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) in partnership with the International Code Council, International Association of Electrical Inspectors, National Association of State Fire Marshals, Slipstream, FSEC Energy Research Center, Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory assembled these resources to provide you with up to date, reliable, vetted information and training related to existing and emerging technologies.