My firm handles a good amount of preservation and reuse work. Energy-efficiency is always an issue (we make sure of that). However, there is a considerable amount of confusion about how the Indiana energy code applies to historic buildings and renovation projects.

Let’s clear the air.

Buildings built before January 21, 1978 are exempt from the Indiana Energy Code.

There is no substitute for primary source material. Keep these links handy:

Indiana Administrative Code (IAC) – Also known as the General Administrative Rules (GAR).

IAC Title 675 Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission – This Title of the IAC exhibits all of the Articles pertinent to building-related codes and rules.

IAC 675, Article 19. Energy Conservation Codes – Rule 4 defines the 2010 Indiana Energy Conservation Code (InECC)

IAC 675, Article 12. Administration – See section 675 IAC 12-4-12 Existing buildings; additions or alterations

The “Pre-1978 Exemption”

675 IAC 12-4-12 (j) provides an exemption from the 2010 InECC for alterations to buildings built prior to January 21, 1978:

(j) Alterations of buildings built prior to January 21, 1978 (the effective date of the first state rule for energy conservation) need not conform with the new construction standards of 675 IAC 19. This exception is applicable regardless of whether the building or other Class 1 structure has undergone one (1) or more changes of occupancy since its construction prior to January 21, 1978, and applies to all work done in the course of any alteration, regardless of the scope of the alteration work performed. For the purposes of this exception, any remodeling work is deemed to be an alteration. This exception does not apply to any addition to a building or Class 1 structure.

When you get into the legalese, one could debate the nuances of the language. For instance, what constitutes an alteration? However, my friend John Hawkins, Chairman and Commissioner of the Indiana Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission, has clarified that “the words alteration, rehabilitation, refurbishment and renovation all mean the same thing as it applies to the exemption.”

675 IAC 12-4-12 (j) also states that even a change of use in and of itself does not trigger a state plan review.

What is important about the exact January 21, 1978 date?

That date may seem peculiar in its specificity, but as noted above, January 21, 1978 is the effective date of the first state rule of energy conservation. Building completed before that date are considered to be “grandfathered in.”

Why did Indiana provide the pre-1978 exemption?

The 675 IAC 12-4-12 (j) exemption is intended to alleviate economic hardship toward developing structures that were never subject to – and perhaps never designed for – energy conservation. Forcing these old structures to meet the energy code could be economically prohibitive. Of course, implementing energy conservation measures should be a priority for any renovation project for a variety of reasons.

Additions to pre-1978 building must comply with the 2010 InECC.

The 2010 InECC is based on ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2007. Under Section 4. Administration and Enforcement, it states: Additions to Existing Buildings. An extension or increase in the floor area or height of a building outside of the existing building envelope shall be considered additions to existing buildings and shall comply with the standard as described in Section 4.2.

If follows then that any kind of addition – including any rehabilitation, refurbishment, or renovation – that extends beyond the existing building envelope in a pre-1978 building is subject to the InECC.