Program Puerto Rico - Building Energy Code with Mandatory Solar Water Heating
Category Regulatory Policy
Implementing sector State
Last Update
State Puerto Rico
Technologies Solar Water Heat, Solar Pool Heating
Sectors Residential

In 2009, the Governor of Puerto Rico provided assurance that Puerto Rico would update its building energy codes as part of the state's application for State Energy Program funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Specifically, the Governor's Assurance assigned the Puerto Rican Energy Affairs Administration (EAA) the following responsibilities:

  • Implement building energy codes for residential buildings that meet or exceed the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC 2009).
  • Implement building energy codes for commercial buildings that meet the 2007 ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1, “Energy Standard for Buildings except Low-Rise Residential Buildings”
  • Implement a plan to achieve compliance with the building energy codes within 8 years of the date of enactment of the ARRA in at least 90% of new and renovated residential and commercial building space.

The EAA worked in collaboration with Hawaii and other territories to develop amendments to the IECC 2009 incorporating considerations such as the tropical climate zone and construction industry of the islands. The amendments were evaluated and approved in June 2010. According to the EAA, these technical amendments were determined by using Energy Plus software that simulates the energy consumption of a building. The final public hearing was held September 30, 2010 to decide the fate of the proposed amendments to the IECC 2009.

The final adopted 2011 Puerto Rico Building Codes reference the International Energy Conservation Code and their effective date depends on the building’s occupancy group type. By March 2017, the state has a goal of 90% compliance on new construction and renovations. Overall, the codes are enforced by the Office of Permits Management, although the Energy Affairs Administration has a significant role in the energy code section and implementation.

Of particular note are the inclusion of renewable energy provisions within the Residential Energy Efficient Chapter. Pool heaters are only allowed if they are powered by renewable or alternate energy sources. And, only solar water heaters may be used for any new one- and two-dwelling units and townhouses (no exemptions). Furthermore, the code contains provisions for required rough-ins for future installation of renewable energy systems (low income housing exempted).

In 1979 the Code for Energy Conservation in Puerto Rico was adopted as part of the Building Codes administered by the Permits and Regulations Administration (in 2010, this agency was replaced with the Oficina del Inspector de Permisos y la Oficina de Gerencia de Permisos or Office of Permits Inspection and Management). Legislation was enacted that assigns the Energy Affairs Administration responsibility for updating the energy code. Later, when the general building code was adopted, there was no separate energy code. The 1999 Building Energy Code was in place until this 2011 code revision.

For additional information about building energy codes, visit U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building Energy Codes Program and the Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP).

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