Stretch Codes and Specialized Opt In Codes – Coming to a City Near You


The home construction and renovation process has many milestones. First, you decide to embark on the journey. You find an architect to help you determine what to build. Next, you hire the construction company to make the vision a reality. And in the middle of all that, you have to be sure that everything you envision will meet the zoning requirements and the building codes.

While the requirement to know the codes doesn’t fall to you, specifically – your architect and building firm should take the lead on that – you should be aware of changes at the state and local level that will affect your project. 

In Massachusetts, a Stretch Energy Code went into effect on August 12, 2016. This code required remodeling and new construction projects to be built to a higher energy efficiency standard. Areas of focus included improved insulation and more energy efficient mechanical systems. 

Since that time, the Massachusetts State Legislature has continued to develop guidelines that increase the energy efficiency requirements for new homes and renovations. As they have presented these “stretchier codes”, many cities and municipalities have adopted them or are having town meetings to discuss their potential impacts. 

For new residential and addition/remodel projects, this new, “stretchier code” is probably going to require a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rating in the low 40s, depending on the heating fuel type and project scale. HERS is a nationally recognized measurement of a home’s efficiency. The lower the HERS rating, the more energy efficient the home is. 

While these changes and new requirements can seem daunting and confusing, we have been building beyond the stretch codes for many years now. In fact, we are working with the New England HERS Raters Association to develop accessible information about the new code requirements, including a focus on value-engineering cost benefit comparisons. An example would be determining the cost and benefit of selecting double glazed vs. triple glazed windows and doors for a project. What would it cost and how would it impact the HERS score? Knowing which decisions need to be made at what point during the design and building processes help our teams prioritize the decision making and ensure a successful result.

From airtight construction, to efficient mechanical systems, solar panels and battery arrays, we have the knowledge and experience to make sure your home construction project is not only beautiful and everything you wanted, but well ahead of the building code standards. Contact us today to discuss your project.