Can Electronic Plan Review Promote Sustainable Construction and Energy Efficiency?

April 13, 2023by e-PlanSoft™ Team

Buildings are massive consumers of energy, making up for roughly 40% of all energy consumption in the nation, according to the Energy-Efficient Codes Coalition. This places great strain on building owners, construction planners and the energy companies themselves, who need to produce more to keep up with heightening energy demands.

There are many ways to ensure that energy efficiency is met when constructing buildings. You can probably guess that eplanning is less wasteful than traditional pen-and-paper planning. E-PlanReview, our electronic plan review platform, is all done digitally via a cloud-based web platform — meaning there’s no need for paper, reducing waste materials and adding sustainability.

However, there’s much, much more to it than that. Here, we’ll go into how e-PlanReview helps ensure efficiency and sustainability during and after construction.

Why use sustainable construction and energy efficiency?

It’s crucial to construct buildings with energy efficiency and sustainability in mind. Failing this, we as a nation would be using far more energy than needed, straining our resources and causing a myriad of problems, not the least of which would be dramatically raised energy costs. The supply of power would need to increase to keep pace, causing disruption in the energy market — not to mention the devastating effects that would have on the environment.

Construction following environmental codes to minimize the amount of energy the buildings use is vital. Upholding sustainable construction and energy efficiency helps everyone involved: 

  • The owner(s) of the building pay less.

  • Its occupants have lower energy costs.

  • Energy providers don’t need to produce more than they would otherwise have to.

  • Environmental friendliness is promoted.

There is no downside to sustainable construction and energy efficiency.

In addition, this promotes using renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. These too can be part of the construction process when planning how to save on energy costs.

What is the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)?

Because there are no federal regulations regarding energy efficiency codes in the U.S., the IECC is a “model code” for states to follow. All 50 states utilize the IECC to decrease energy consumption in buildings. This code is updated every three years to adapt to new technologies and standards; the goal is to ensure American residential and commercial buildings meet minimum levels of sustainability and energy efficiency.

The most recent update to the IECC was in 2021, created with the cooperation of officials from various states and municipalities voting on prospective changes. Notably, the 2021 IECC was a vast improvement over the 2018 codes, resulting in a nearly 10% decrease in overall energy gains. This will change in 2024, when the codes will be updated by members of a committee and government regulators with nine separate categories.

ICC Codes by State

How e-PlanReview ensures the proper application of IECC

e-PlanReview has IECCs built into its standard comments set. This means anyone can refer to the IECCs as they please, but it also means these codes can be shared freely among plan reviewers. 

Note that not all standards and regulations necessarily come from the IECC. New codes can be implemented in any plan set by its administrator.

However, even if you know the code you’re supposed to follow, the nature of pen-and-paper plan sets means you have to estimate the lengths of lines and sizes of markups. This is not the case with e-PlanReview because all markups are digitally created, meaning they have computerized precision.

The key word in e-PlanReview that largely separates it from traditional plan review is “concurrent.” This means that everyone can be looking at the same plan set, making markups in real time. Because everyone can immediately see each other’s work (without the need to pass the plan set around or do any physical traveling), you can get immediate feedback from others looking at an environmental code in a project. This ensures accuracy, as others can check each plan reviewer’s work to ensure it’s correct.

e-PlanReview helps with sustainable construction and energy efficiency

In the past, IECC regulations required interested parties to look up specific codes in a library. This process was both time-consuming and painstaking.

With e-PlanReview, this system is a thing of the past. Not only are IECC standards built into the electronic plan review software for easy reference, but they can also be cited directly and shared with other plan reviewers. Those individuals can then ensure the code is implemented with greatly minimized risk of human error. All of the work is checked, accuracy is ensured and the result is sustainable construction and energy efficiency.

At e-PlanSoft, we have a range of comprehensive eplanning platforms with everything you need to shift from traditional plan review to e-PlanReview. Contact us today to request a demo and see what our solutions can do for you.
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