Adapting to Change: Navigating Energy Codes in New England’s Remodeling Industry

By Gustavo Teza, Advanced Green Insulation & Fireplace

In the heart of New England, where historic homes stand as testaments to time, the remodeling industry is met with unique challenges when it comes to adapting to evolving energy codes. On Wednesday, September 6th, JB Sash & Door hosted a PRO NE monthly member meeting that delved into these challenges. The event featured a panel discussion titled “Shell Game: Envelope Design,” with an expert lineup that included Stuart Lipp, Senior Architectural Project Manager at Marvin; Katie Flynn, AIA, Founding Principal at Hisel Flynn Architects; and Kevin Ring, HERS Rater and Technical Lead – Residential Services at Sustainable Energy Analytics Inc. The discussion was artfully moderated by Eric Adams of Adams + Beasley Associates. 

Caption: From Left: Katie Flynn, AIA, Founding Principal at Hisel Flynn Architects, Stuart Lipp, Senior Architectural Project Manager at Marvin, Kevin Ring, HERS Rater and Technical Lead – Residential Services at Sustainable Energy Analytics Inc., and Eric Adams, Adams + Beasley Associates. 

Adapting to the New Energy Codes 

The central theme of the discussion revolved around the new energy codes and their profound impact on the remodeling industry. As these codes evolve, they present a host of challenges that require professionals to adapt and generate creative solutions. Eric Adams set the tone for the discussion, emphasizing that “abandoning the ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ mentality is the key to navigating the new reality.” 

Unique Challenges in New England

New England’s historic homes are a marvel, but they also pose a unique challenge. Many of these homes are among the oldest in the United States, boasting their original character and charm. However, bringing them in line with modern energy codes can be a daunting task. The expense of code compliance can be substantial, and the financial aspects of these upgrades can be difficult to discuss with clients. 

The Intersection of Dreams and Reality 

In the remodeling industry, the task is often to transform clients’ dreams into tangible reality. While this is arguably the most rewarding aspect of the job, it can also be the source of immense pressure when things don’t go as planned. Many questions were raised during the discussion, but one that resonated was, “How do we navigate these new energy code constraints concerning our clients’ wishes and financial limitations?”

Katie Flynn, an expert in her own right, offered valuable insight: “Let clients know to hold contingency to be in compliance with this new reality.” Informing clients ahead of time that they need to factor code compliance into their renovation/construction budgets can be helpful when navigating the challenging conversations surrounding feasibility and budget constraints. 

Turning Challenges into Opportunities 

The remodeling industry is no stranger to challenges, and professionals are adept at adapting to unforeseen circumstances and creating solutions to problems that are often beyond their control. The very nature of this work is to take the intangible and make it tangible. In the face of the many challenges posed by the new energy code, professionals in the industry have demonstrated resilience. With patience, an open mind, and a willingness to seek solutions, the industry continues to thrive and excel in what it does best: turning challenges into opportunities. 

Navigating the evolving landscape of energy codes in New England’s remodeling industry requires professionals to embrace change and find innovative solutions. By doing so, they not only honor the historic homes that have stood the test of time but also ensure that these homes remain sustainable and energy-efficient for generations to come. As the discussion concluded, it was clear that the industry, with its spirit of adaptability and creativity, is well-equipped to face these challenges head-on.

Caption: Ben Becker, BLB Design/Build the raffle winner of the evening.

Caption: From Left: Eric Adams, Adams + Beasley Associates, Kevin Cradock, Kevin Cradock Builders.

Caption: From Left: Adam Incontri, Zealous Construction, Brad Kelleher, Zealous Construction. 

Katie Flynn, AIA, Founding Principal at Hisel Flynn Architects, Justin McLinden, JM Construction, Jeff McLinden, JM Construction. 

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