What is enforcement?
Enforcement is the process that building inspection departments undertake to ensure that site plans and construction follow the provisions of the building code, including the energy code where one has been adopted.
Why is it important?
Without a significant emphasis on enforcement, compliance diminishes, and the outcome is always the same: new building or renovation projects that fail to realize their full potential for energy savings and the myriad benefits that go along with them.
Effective enforcement methods vary across the country, giving communities a number of options. Jurisdictions must choose an enforcement model that works for them given available funds and resources. The most effective method for enforcement is one in which all parties clearly understand the code requirements and what is expected of them, and have the resources to efficiently carry out their responsibilities.
Available compliance tools
There are many computer-based tools and services to help automate and streamline the enforcement process. REScheck and COMcheck are extremely useful programs for determining the energy code compliance of a building when used in conjunction with on-site inspections for energy efficiency requirements. Field inspection devices (such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops) allow building inspectors to instantly release data to builders and inspection departments, decreasing the need to drive back and forth between site and office. As a result, inspectors can visit more sites and spend more time at each. Hand-held devices also allow inspectors to file accurate (and legible) reports. Having access to construction specs in the field also improves enforcement. For example, inspectors can quickly check product specs to make sure that builders are using appropriate materials and meeting design criteria.
The enforcement cycle
Inspectors’ reports and data flow back to inspection departments. Government agencies on the state and national levels can then compile this information and analyze it to determine the practices that work. If code inspectors notice a recurring problem, such as an aspect of the code that builders repeatedly misinterpret, local and state governments can customize education and outreach efforts.