December 27, 2021

Distributed Energy Resource Codes and Standards: Where to Find Them

A guide to DER codes and standards for multiple technologies as of early 2021.

Distributed energy resources (DERs) produce and supply electricity on a small scale and are spread out over a wide area. Supporting these technologies are codes and standards to ensure their safe installation and operation.

Rooftop solar electric systems and battery energy storage systems are examples of DERs. Other clean energy technologies that are often associated with DERs include electric vehicles (EVs). Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology can enable energy to be pushed back to the power grid from the battery of an electric car. In addition, high-performance buildings and the smart technology within them are often associated with DERs.

These five documents summarize the location of the primary DER-related codes for multiple technologies as of early 2021.

Content Contributors: Southface Institute, International Code Council

Solar (PV and Thermal)

Solar PV Model Codes and Solar Thermal Model Codes

Energy Storage Systems (ESS)

A Guide to Model Codes for Energy Storage Systems

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

EV-Related Model Codes

High-Performance Building Systems (HPBS)

Model Codes for High-Performance Building Systems

Building Automation and Controls (BAC)

Building Automation and Controls Model Codes

Additional Resources

Distributed Energy Resources: An Introduction from the International Code Council (ICC)

See below for codes that contain references to DER technologies. Code books are available for purchase, and some organizations offer free online versions as well.

ICC i-codes (free read-online versions available here):

  • International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 2021: The IECC is the main source of energy efficiency regulations within ICC code. This code also contains many sections relating to PV/Solar Storage Systems and Building Controls and Automation topic areas.
  • International Building Code (IBC) 2021: While the IBC focuses more on the structural integrity of buildings, it does include some DER language. The code contains sections describing various DER equipment, such as PV/Solar requirements, as it relates to building integrity and design. 
  • International Residential Code (IRC) 2021: The Residential Code includes all residential solar provisions/regulations. The code also details many technologies that fall under the High Performance Building System topic area.
  • International Mechanical Code (IMC) 2021: The mechanical code is vital to understanding many HVAC requirements, a major aspect of our High-Performance Building System topic. The mechanical code also details the design, installation, and equipment necessary to implement solar storage and PV technologies.
  • International Green Construction Code (IGCC) 2021: The IGCC focuses mostly on High Performance Building Systems and Building Automation and Control categories, specifically HVAC and Lighting requirements.
  • International Fire Code (IFC) 2021: Like NFPA-1, the IFC has fire safety and protection protocols that cover all DER technologies.

National Fire Protection Association Codes (free read-online versions available here):

  • National Fire Protection Association 70 (NFPA-70) 2020: NFPA-70, or the National Electrical Code, has important information relating to solar, energy storage, and electric vehicle technologies. It is the most important resource for electric vehicle charging and equipment requirements and regulations.
  • National Fire Protection Association 1 (NFPA-1) 2020: Similar to the IFC, the NFPA-1 is the leading fire safety code across the country. In order to meet code, all DER installations have to abide by NFPA-1 regulations.
  • National Fire Protection Association 855 (NFPA-855) 2020: NFPA-855 is the National Energy Storage Standard. This standard contains all regulations and safety protocols related to energy storage systems, a major DER topic within the database.
  • National Fire Protection Association 70 (NFPA-70) 2020: NFPA-70, or the National Electrical Code, has important information relating to solar, energy storage, and electric vehicle technologies. It is the most important resource for electric vehicle charging and equipment requirements and regulations.
  • National Fire Protection Association 1 (NFPA-1) 2020: Similar to the IFC, the NFPA-1 is the leading fire safety code across the country. In order to meet code, all DER installations have to abide by NFPA-1 regulations.
  • National Fire Protection Association 855 (NFPA-855) 2020: NFPA-855 is the National Energy Storage Standard. This standard contains all regulations and safety protocols related to energy storage systems, a major DER topic within the database.
  • National Fire Protection Association 101 (NFPA-101) 2020: NFPA 101 is the National Life Safety Code which contains many labeling, access, and protection requirements related to many DER technologies.

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (free read-online versions available here):

  • ASHRAE 90.1 2019: The Commercial Energy Standard. Similar to the IGCC, 90.1 covers various topics related to energy efficiency and savings. With mandatory and prescriptive provisions, 90.1 covers almost every major topic within the database.


This material was developed by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). It is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) under the Award Number DE-EE0009455 (“EMPOWERED”). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Energy or the United States Government.