Navigating Massachusetts' New Building Energy Codes: A Guide with Systemair's Geniox Solutions

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The 2023 revision of the Massachusetts Building Energy Code introduces significant changes, emphasizing sustainable and energy-efficient construction. In response to the state's commitment to reducing emissions by more than 50% by 2050, the updated code targets a substantial reduction in carbon emissions from buildings, a major contributor to annual emissions. These modifications also highlight the growing importance of advanced ventilation systems in commercial buildings.

While the tighter requirements are exclusive to Massachusetts now, it’s safe to assume that similar tightening may occur in other jurisdictions and the greater code in the future. In addition, following similar practices even when not required by code can help elevate your projects’ energy efficiency and indoor air quality goals.

Ventilation Energy Recovery: A Core Focus

Section C403.7 of this latest update focuses on ventilation energy recovery, mandating higher energy recovery requirements from mechanical ventilation equipment. For example, air handling units must now achieve an Enthalpy Recovery Ratio (ERR) of no less than 70%, underscoring the need for advanced, flexible systems like Geniox in varying commercial settings.

Massachusetts offers multiple routes for building compliance under its Stretch and Specialized Energy Codes. The Stretch Code—developed from the IECC 2021 version with specific MA amendments—and the Specialized Code—formulated to align with Massachusetts’ Net Zero goals—present different standards for new construction and major renovations.

Systemair’s Geniox AHUs are engineered to meet these diverse requirements, offering high recovery rates and energy efficiency, thereby facilitating compliance with various pathways under both codes.

City by the water

Analysis of 225 CMR 23

Massachusetts’ 225 CMR 23 plays a major role in shaping the standards for commercial construction. This regulation correlates with the growing need for environmentally sustainable building practices, especially those focusing on energy efficiency in ventilation systems.

225 CMR 23 details specific guidelines for energy recovery ventilation systems. It mainly focuses on heat and moisture transfer between the exhaust and supply air streams in a building’s ventilation system. This guideline revolves around the ERR, which is a measure of a system’s effectiveness in energy recovery.

225 CMR 23 vs. Other Building Codes

Its detailed approach to energy recovery in ventilation systems is what sets 225 CMR 23 apart from other sections of the Massachusetts building code. Unlike broader code sections that may cover a range of standards, 225 CMR 23 homes in on specific criteria:

ERR requirements

This regulation requires mechanical systems to achieve a minimum ERR of 70% for both heating and cooling conditions.

Classification by building space

The code outlines different ERR requirements for various types of spaces within a commercial building.

Air class considerations

This part of the code classifies air into four categories based on quality and suitability for recirculation. These classes range from Class 1, which includes air from spaces like offices and classrooms, to Class 4, which covers exhaust for areas like laboratories. It specifies clear ratios for each class, guaranteeing the ventilation system is tailored to the specific requirements for each space.

How Geniox Meets and Exceeds Massachusetts’ Building Energy Codes

Geniox units, equipped with features like counterflow cores and energy recovery wheels, achieve up to 90% recovery efficiency. Integration with building management systems through ECB controllers allows for precise control over airflow rates and energy usage, aligning with the stringent requirements of Massachusetts’ building codes.

Implementing Geniox not only ensures compliance with current standards, but also prepares buildings for future environmental regulations. As the U.S. government sets ambitious goals for net-zero energy by 2050, Geniox stands as a proactive solution for improving building energy efficiency and indoor air quality.

Systemair’s Geniox has emerged as a pivotal solution for commercial buildings aiming to meet these progressive building energy codes. By choosing Geniox, specifiers align themselves with the state's environmental goals, ensuring a healthier, more sustainable future for all.