Stretch Codes, Rhode Island, and Hope.

Published on February 10, 2020 by Norman Osbourne

Rhode Island Stretch Code

Stretch codes can be engaged in addition to base codes to lead the construction industry to use less energy, have a less negative impact on the environment, and achieve higher levels of occupant health and comfort for everyone. Stretch codes encourage the use of best practice approaches that take advantage of advances in building science and technology.

Rhode Island’s first voluntary Stretch Codes were made available to private and public, building construction and renovation projects in 2018. Current Rhode Island Stretch Codes are available below and through the Building Code Commission’s website. Used to comply with Rhode Island’s Green Buildings Act (RIGL §37-24), Stretch Codes are voluntary. They are to guide the construction and renovation of buildings that use less energy, have a less negative impact on the environment, and achieve higher levels of occupant health and comfort. New building construction and large-scale renovation projects are also encouraged to use the Stretch Codes to help maximize the financial incentives available from National Grid’s Energy Efficiency Programs. The codes were developed with the assistance of subject matter experts and vetted through a public comment process.

With Governor Gina Raimondo’s Lead by Example Executive Order (EO 15-17), she directed the Office of Energy Resources work with its state partners and other stakeholders to develop the state’s first voluntary Stretch Codes. Also, Governor Raimondo’s Executive Order set robust energy reduction targets and clean energy goals for State agencies to reduce utility costs, support green energy job growth, and shrink public sector carbon footprints.

The Rhode Island Residential Stretch Code is an integral part of a comprehensive effort to reduce long-term energy consumption. It supports Rhode Island’s growing green economy, increases the affordability of home utility costs, and meet the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets which aim to reduce statewide GHG emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 (§ 42- 6.2-2). Establishing zero-energy building energy codes in Rhode Island by 2035 will be a critical component to achieving these goals. This Residential Stretch Code means only to serve as a stepping stone towards these more ambitious targets.

The stretch code establishes provisions that adequately protect public health, safety, and welfare. The code does NOT unnecessarily increase construction costs, nor does it restrict the use of new materials, products, or methods of construction. It also does not give preferential treatment to particular types or classes of materials, products, or practices of development, which should provide us – just as RI state motto reads, with some hope.