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THE WASHINGTON STATE ENERGY CODE | A GUIDE FOR ARCHITECTS

August 19, 2019

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The green construction industry is booming in the United States, and the state of Washington is no exception.

The building codes and home energy requirements in the state of Washington reflect this surge of sustainable building in the industry. The adoption of updated energy codes means homes in Washington have a higher standard of performance requirements, to help conserve energy and resources so that the communities and residents thrive.

Keeping up with updated energy code standards can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you are sure to keep up on any new energy efficiency requirements, understand the benefits of energy efficiency and choose the highest-performing products for your home design.

Compliance With Washington Energy Efficiency Standards

The codes for energy conservation in Washington are based on national and international building codes, which are published and updated every three years. The state of Washington most recently adopted the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Any new (or renovated) residential and commercial buildings must comply with these approved standards until updated (2018) codes are proposed and accepted.


Washington’s energy codes provide direction to architects and builders on building a compliant and energy efficient home. Navigating building code can be a little tricky, so technical assistance is offered to residents through Washington State University (WSU) and their Extension Energy Program.

New Home Construction on Lakeview Parkway Mound Minnesota 41595006660

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) also provides guidance for building energy-efficient, high-performing homes through the Zero Energy Ready Home program. This program provides technical guides, installation instructions, and prescriptive and performance path options for professionals and residents interested in a sustainable design for their home.

Your home design can meet or exceed the Zero Energy Ready Home program requirements, no matter where you live. The DOE also gives homeowners climate-specific guidance, providing detailed information on home solutions that are optimized for specific regions of the country.

Tips Towards Energy Efficiency: Seattle

To design a new home to be compliant with energy codes and save homeowners on their energy costs, there are a few key components that architects will need to consider, including the home’s building envelope, insulation materials used, and any access points or openings in the home.

Using Washington’s standards for energy efficiency will ensure your home performs effectively. Insulating a home so that it meets these state requirements can save a substantial amount of energy in the home (as much as 25%), keeps the temperature of the home consistent and comfortable and helps reduce heating and cooling bills.

Compliant levels of insulation will also protect the building envelope of the home. The building envelope provides shelter, solar and thermal control, moisture control, indoor air quality control, access to daylight, views to outside, fire resistance, better acoustics and energy savings.


“Because of the varied and sometimes competing functions associated with the building envelope, an integrated, synergistic approach considering all phases of the facility life cycle is warranted,” writes Rob Bolin for Whole Building Design Guide. The health of your home’s building envelope is related to how long your home will actually last, so finding healthy and sustainable materials is key.

Room with horizontal windows.

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A significant amount of a home’s energy is also lost because of thermal transfer through any openings in the home. Installing energy efficient windows, like the MGlass window design in the home above, helps homeowners prevent this kind of energy loss.

Designing With Energy Efficiency Materials

Being energy-conscious doesn’t mean a home’s design should suffer. Because of the demand for more energy efficient buildings, there are a wide variety of products and design strategies to keep you compliant.

  • Install ENERGY STAR® rated appliances and lighting sources to save on electricity and reduce energy consumption.
  • Improve indoor air quality by specifying products that are safe and don’t expose occupants to airborne pollutants and contaminants.
  • Use triple-glazing on windows and other glass designs: less heat will escape, the home will meet higher standards for code compliance, and homeowners can potentially save more money.
  • Incorporate more natural light (it’s free!) in the design by installing stylish glass walls or accordion glass doors. MINIMAL Glass + Door offers a range of energy-efficient and code-compliant glass solutions for any home design.

Code-Compliance for a More Sustainable Future

Seattle Residental Home with MINIMAL Glass + Doors.

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Washington’s energy code requirements help to ensure that today’s home designs last longer and perform efficiently. By understanding what local codes require, architects in locations like the city of Seattle can help homeowners build a sustainable and energy-efficient home they’ll love.

Looking for more code-compliant and energy-efficient solutions for your new home? Check out our inspiration gallery for ideas. Installing glass products from MINIMAL Glass + Door can help you build the high-performing home of your dreams.

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