Beyond Code Portal > Stretch and Reach Codes

Stretch Codes

A stretch energy code is a voluntary appendix to a mandatory statewide minimum energy code that allows municipalities to adopt a uniform beyond code option to achieve greater levels of energy efficiency. Stretch codes pull the construction market upward, priming the construction industry for changes that could well be part of the next update for the state baseline energy code. These programs also provide certainty and consistency for the construction sector by developing the stretch code through the same public process as other statewide codes and avoiding the patchwork of dozens of different local energy codes.

Article: Stretch Codes Pull Toward Green Communities November 29, 2016

So far, stretch energy code requirements (in municipalities that have adopted them) have applied to the design and construction of:

  • New residential buildings of 3 stories or less
  • Portions of existing residential buildings undergoing renovation or addition
  • Larger commercial buildings (above 5,000 square feet for most projects; above 40,000 square feet for “specialty” buildings like warehouses, hospitals, or schools)

Click here to read more about Stretch Codes from New Buildings Institute.

Resource from NEEP: Rating Systems vs. Stretch Building Energy Codes: Maximizing energy efficiency through building standards

Stretch Codes – DOE Technical Assistance Program
This presentation from the Department of Energy’s Technical Assistance Program covers stretch codes as a possible above-code policy for State Energy Program (SEP) and Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, as well as Massachusetts’ experience with the state’s 120.AA stretch code. It also covers the green codes ASHRAE Standard 189.1 and the California Green Standards Code (CalGreen).

Stretch Code Example: Massachusetts

The first of its kind in the United States, the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code (State Building Code, 8th Edition – Appendix 115AA) provides a uniform beyond code option for municipalities to achieve energy efficiency levels 20 percent beyond the state minimum code, then based on the 2009 IECC. Released in July 2009, the residential stretch code is based on the federal Energy Star for Homes program built upon the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) and customized for Massachusetts. The commercial stretch code is the base energy code for Massachusetts (2009 IECC), with further improvements derived from the New Buildings Institute (NBI) Core Performance program.

As of January 12, 2017, 189 municipalities comprising 65.8% of the state’s population have adopted the stretch code. Previously based on the 2009 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2007, the revised stretch code now references the 2015 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2013.

Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code (Appendix 115AA):
Homepage | Municipality Adoption Map | FAQs

UPDATE: At the beginning of 2016, the Massachusetts Board of Buildings Regulations and Standards (BBRS) completed a final draft of the ninth edition of the MA State Building Code, based on the suite of 2015 I-codes, including the 2015 IECC. Details about the review and public hearing processes that will take place in 2016 can be found here.


Go to Massachusetts code status page →

Stretch Code Example: Vermont

In June 2013, Vermont authorized the Department of Public Service to develop a stretch energy code that individual municipalities would have the option of adopting. Expected to last through 2014, the public, statewide process will take place alongside the processes to update the state’s minimum residential and commercial energy codes to exceed the 2012 IECC.

UPDATE: Effective March 1, 2015, Vermont’s minimum state energy code is based on the 2015 IECC for both residential and commercial construction.

Vermont is Willing to Stretch for Efficiency (NEEP blog post)


Go to Vermont code status page →

Reach Codes

Unlike stretch codes (which allow municipalities to adopt a uniform beyond code option), reach codes are a set of statewide optional construction standards for energy efficiency that exceed the requirements of the state’s mandatory codes. They provide individual builders an optional path for high performance construction and jurisdictions can be assured that the innovative construction methods are sound. Reach codes can cover a number of topic area including lighting design, mechanical systems, lighting designs, structural design, plumbing, and more. Reach code developers can also choose to align the requirements with federal, state, and local financial incentives.

Reach codes pull the construction market upward, priming the construction industry for changes that could well be part of the next update for the state baseline energy code. These programs also provide certainty and consistency for the construction sector by developing the reach code through the same public process as other statewide codes and avoiding the pitfalls inspecting projects for compliance that may use many different standards or approaches to achieving greater performance.

So far in practice, reach energy code requirements have applied to the design and construction of new and existing commercial and residential projects where the builder has chosen to comply with the reach code.

Reach Code Example: Oregon

First available for use in 2011, the Oregon Reach Code (ORC) contains both residential (ORRC) and commercial (OCRC) provisions based on the 2012 International Green Construction Code public version 2.0 with Oregon amendments. Its developers intended the code to be economically and technically feasible while regulating design and construction for effective energy use and employment of renewable energy technology. The code provides flexibility by allowing innovative approaches and techniques.

Oregon Reach Code
Homepage | Preface | Text | Technical Assistance


Article: Oregon reaches with new code March 25, 2010

Go to Oregon code status page →

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This page was last modified on: January 26, 2017