Log Home Manufacturer Meets 2009 IECC Codes for All Climate Zones

Oakfield, Maine (August 31, 2009)—Decades of commitment to new energy- and money-saving solutions has paid off for Katahdin Cedar Log Homes with the sweeping changes to national and state building code requirements through the 2009 IECC residential codes. Today, Katahdin’s log home packages meet or exceed much more stringent energy code requirements across all climate zones without needing any additional modifications.

This year, states across the country will be reviewing and enacting comprehensive new building code requirements for residential and commercial buildings based on 2009 IECC, which come into effect beginning January 1, 2010. Key elements to these code changes are the more stringent requirements for energy efficiency in walls, ceilings, floors, mechanicals and other energy components included in a typical family home. Since many states do not have a statewide uniform code in place and rely on local municipalities or counties to set and enforce building codes, the 2009 IECC regulations may be a dramatic upgrade when compared to current local standards.

Katahdin Cedar Log Homes has promoted enhanced energy efficiency since the first energy crisis in the mid-1970s had us lowering our highway speeds and our thermostats. As oil prices soared last winter, Katahdin launched its Energy Envelope System that effectively increased the efficiency of a cedar log wall by as much as 156%, while maintaining the whole log wall integrity and look.

What is 2009 IECC?
The new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act requires that states adopt the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). This new standard for building energy efficiency was developed by the International Code Council (ICC), and will become an enforceable national building code throughout the United States beginning in 2010. The IECC is part of a federal program to improve energy efficiency in homes and commercial buildings. States must adopt the 2009 IECC regulations to be eligible for federal energy stimulus money.

How will 2009 IECC Affect Log Homes?
The 2009 IECC has activated a quiet revolution in energy efficiency requirements for new residential construction.  As a member of ICC, the parent organization that developed the 2009 IECC requirements, Katahdin Cedar Log Homes has done the necessary research to ensure that their log home packages will meet the stringent new codes.

“We’ve been planning for an energy future that has arrived on our doorsteps today,” said David Gordon, president of Katahdin Cedar Log Homes. “Our primary focus is to ensure that our customers have the highest quality log home, superior energy efficiency and cost-savings that reach years beyond the initial investment,” he said. “To meet those goals, Katahdin has developed and implemented a broad range of energy and environmental changes, most recently by introducing the Energy Envelope System.” The Energy Envelope System brings the already superior insulating qualities of Northern White Cedar to insulation levels high enough to meet or exceed new 2009 IECC standards for all zones in the US, including Alaska.

Katahdin’s Energy Envelope System
The Energy Envelope System is constructed from the full log wall exterior toward the interior using rigid insulation sheets and other components. On the interior face of the wall tongue and groove cedar is applied, shaped to either a flat or round profile to maintain the whole log effect on interior surfaces.

The improved insulation provided by the Energy Envelope System is achieved without sacrificing the look or structural integrity of whole log wall systems. The insulation system also reduces other construction costs because it simplifies other plumbing and electrical systems that are installed in walls. Katahdin applies a similar approach to roof insulation to meet the new codes, by adding layers of rigid insulation between the ceiling paneling and the roof sheathing boards.

Northern White Cedar Makes the Difference
Katahdin has utilized Northern White Cedar for its log wall stock for multiple reasons, but two stand out when considering the context of the new energy codes. First, cedar has a significantly higher natural insulating value than other tree species used for log homes. Secondly, cedar also dries more quickly and more thoroughly than pine, with an arid 12-14% moisture content when shipped from Katahdin. Cedar logs do not require the shrinkage allowances necessary to accommodate changes in moister pine logs, and as a result, Katahdin’s cedar log walls can support an interior rigid insulation-based system without experiencing buckling.

How is 2009 IECC compliance measured?
There are two ways that compliance with 2009 IECC can be measured: before construction through calculations of insulating factors in the homes envelope (prescriptive compliance); or upon completion of construction, where a third-party certifies the home’s efficiency using a number of tests to monitor air infiltration, heat loss, high-efficiency furnaces, and other factors. Prescriptive compliance may use specialized computer software to calculate a home’s efficiency. One widely used program used prior to construction is RESCheck, and is provided by the US Department of Energy, which also supervises the Energy Star® rating program for homes.

Through RESCheck, the most commonly used pre-construction compliance software, Katahdin is able to design a home to ensure that it complies with the 2009 IECC codes for the home’s climate zone. IECC has scaled its requirements based on climate zones, moisture and humidity and severity of winters. The zones are numbered 1 through 8. The higher the number the colder the climate, and ultimately the more insulation required by the code.