North Carolina

Current Commercial Code

2012 North Carolina Energy Conservation Code
Based on the 2009 IECC with substantial strengthening amendments; ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2010 is an acceptable compliance path through Chapter 5 of the IECC.
passed 6/23/2011; effective 1/1/2012

north calorina building codes

The commercial provisions of this code emphasize building envelope enhancements. The new minimum requirements raise energy efficiency levels through slightly higher R-values for ceilings, walls, floors and slabs, slightly better window performance with lower U-factor and SHGC standards, and increased reliance on efficient lighting and other improvements. The new code also requires designers to select at least one of six additional energy efficiency options for every building. The North Carolina Department of Insurance has estimated that the commercial provisions of the 2012 NCECC meet or exceed the requirements of ASHRAE 90.1-2010 with respect to energy conservation aggregated as a whole.

See Development and Implementation of an Improved Energy Code for North Carolina for more information.

North Carolina has also adopted an amendment (effective January 1, 2015) to allow the use of ASHRAE 90.1-2010 as a compliance option for commercial buildings.

Current Residential Code

2012 North Carolina Energy Conservation Code
Based on the 2009 IECC with substantial strengthening amendments
passed 6/23/2011; effective 1/1/2012

Compared to the previous iteration of North Carolina’s code, significant improvements were made in the areas of envelope leakage reduction, duct tightness, window performance, wall insulation, and lighting efficiency. The 2012 NCECC also offers a voluntary appendix that defines a High Efficiency Residential Option (HERO) for those builders and contractors that are seeking to deliver a home that achieves 30 percent energy savings beyond the current NCECC. This alternative offers prescriptive paths that require slightly better insulation, fenestration, air sealing, equipment, and lighting packages.

Climate Zones: 3A, 4A, 5A

Code Adoption and Change Process

Code Change Process

Regulatory (and Legislative): New code editions are generally promulgated by rule after being reviewed by the North Carolina Building Code Council. The state legislature, however, also retains the power pass legislation updating the state’s building codes.

Code Change Cycle

The North Carolina Building Code Council reviews editions of the ICC codes, including the IECC, as they are published on three-year cycles, but there is no automatic update requirement.

Next Code Update

The base documents for the 2018 NC Codes are the 2015 suite of I-codes, including the 2015 IECC The 2018 North Carolina Energy Conservation Code (NCECC) as currently proposed is available here. The tentative effective date for this code would be January 1, 2019.


January 1, 2015 An amendment to the 2012 NC Energy Conservation Code replacing references to ASHRAE 90.1-2007 with ASHRAE 90.1-2010 becomes effective. This adoption adds a new alternative compliance path for commercial buildings. It only replaces 501.1 Item 2 as a compliance path; other existing methods – 501.1 Item 1, NC specific COMcheck, and Section 507 – are still valid. Read more about these changes here.
September 2014 DOE announces North Carolina as one of eight states that will participate in a three year residential energy code field study. The other states are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The study comprises three main stages: a baseline study to identify typical home energy usage; an education, training, and outreach phase; and a post-study to evaluate the change in energy use following the second phase activities. The North Carolina Energy Efficiency Alliance will help coordinate the outreach phase.
March 11, 2014 The North Carolina Building Code Council (NCBCC) votes to replace the existing three-year building code cycle with a six-year cycle for all codes besides the National Electric Code (NEC).
January 1, 2012 The 2012 North Carolina Energy Conservation Code (NCECC), based on the 2009 IECC with substantial strengthening amendments, becomes effective. The new NCECC sets building requirements for insulation, window and door ratings, lighting, power and water efficiency. ASHRAE 90.1-2007 is an acceptable compliance path through Chapter 5 of the 2009 IECC. This code iteration achieves significant energy savings in residential and commercial buildings beyond the state’s previous energy code (based on the 2006 IECC). This code will become enforceable on March 1, 2012, two months after its effective date. An analysis of the new code by Mathis Consulting identifies the major energy efficiency advancements. Local jurisdictions are allowed to adopt more stringent energy codes.

Also, the latest version of ENERGY STAR goes into effect for all homes with permit dates after January 1 and homes that receive final inspection after July 1.

June 24, 2011 Governor Beverly Perdue signs Senate Bill 708 into law, approving a new energy code for the residential and commercial buildings. This new code delivers significant improvements in insulation levels, window performance and building envelope air leakage reduction. The new code also includes the High Efficiency Residential Option (HERO) Appendix which delivers a 30% improvement in minimum energy efficiency over the state’s current energy code.

The product of over two years of legislative and regulatory efforts, a version of the 2012 NCECC was originally approved in December 2010 by the NCBCC as part of a series of construction code updates. The code update, however, was delayed indefinitely by objections to certain provisions by the North Carolina Rules Review Commission and petitions submitted appealing the Code Council’s actions.

January 12, 2011 NC Policy Watch publishes an article on the code changes:
Codes, compromises and hidden costs
December 14, 2010 The NCBCC agrees to adopt a compromise to update the state’s energy code (currently based on the 2006 IECC) as part of the 2012 North Carolina State Building Codes. Among the provisions:

  • Residential buildings: A new code achieving slight efficiency improvements over the 2009 North Carolina Energy Conservation Code (NCECC), the 2009 IECC and the 2009 IRC (a roughly 7% to 14% improvement – depending on climate zone).
  • Commercial buildings: The originally proposed commercial code that would achieve energy savings 30% beyond the 2006 IECC.
  • Voluntary appendix: The originally proposed residential code that would achieve energy savings 30% beyond the 2006 IECC (roughly equal to the savings achieved by the 2012 IECC) will be available in the appendix as a voluntary stretch code to help advance energy code training over the next few years.
  • Effective date: The 2012 NCECC will become effective at the same time as the rest of the 2012 State Building Codes: September 1, 2011 with a six-month transition period through March 1, 2012.
  • Above code benefits: Builders that choose to build to the voluntary appendix could receive some recognition or benefits to assist with helping to move the residential building marketplace to higher levels of efficiency. These benefits would be determined by the governor’s office or a state agency as directed.
September 14, 2010 The NCBCC votes 8-6 to defer any action on the adoption of the state’s proposed new energy code until the next code update cycle concludes in 2015.
March 9, 2010 The NCBCC votes to adopt the 2009 I-Codes, including the 2009 IECC with North Carolina amendments, as the 2012 NC State Building Codes. The product of a $500,000 competitive grant awarded by DOE in 2008, the NC amendments to the 2009 IECC are intended to achieve a 30% energy savings beyond the 2006 IECC. Amendments to Chapter 11 of the 2009 IRC will also avoid compliance paths that contradict the IECC.

The target effective date for the 2012 NC Building Codes is – at this point – September 1, 2011 with a transition period until January 1, 2011 during which builders may still use the previous edition of the codes. The NC Energy Division is in the process of preparing RFPs for code official training.

The NCBCC is also creating an Ad Hoc Committee to develop a green building code. Staff will use the Public Version of the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) as the base code. It is anticipated the Ad Hoc Committee will be appointed in April 2010.

July 1, 2009 The 2009 NCECC, based on the 2006 (and referencing ASHRAE 90.1-2004 for commercial buildings) becomes effective. The code includes strengthening amendments to the base code, requiring fenestration U-factor and SHGC values of 0.40 across the state.
April 6, 2009 House Bill 1127 is filed. This legislation would have allowed the adoption of more stringent building code provisions related to energy conservation. However, HB 1127 eventually dies in the House.
September 9, 2008 Governor Mike Easley announces that North Carolina is one of six states to win a federal grant to advance building codes. The other five states are California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Washington. The three-year, $500,000 grant is intended to develop a building energy code that results in a 30% energy efficiency improvement over the 2006 IECC, and also to improve the training of code inspectors, increase compliance, and establish an appropriate level of enforcement.
July 1, 2006 The 2006 NCECC, based on the 2003 IECC, becomes effective.
December 31, 2001 The 2002 NCECC, based on the 2000 IECC, becomes effective.
December 1973 The NCBCC adopts the Southern Building Code Congress (SBCC) Standard Building Code insulating standards as statewide standards. The council later adopts the Standard Building Code with North Carolina amendments, which take effect on January 1, 1978.


Len Hoey
Energy Engineering Manager
North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality

Billy Hinton, Jr.
Chief Energy Code Consultant
North Carolina Department of Insurance

Sareena Nagpal
Energy Codes Manager
Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA)

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