Connected-energy initiatives in homes and buildings are beginning to move forward—and could see even more momentum, following the announcement of a new energy code focused on efficiency gains in existing buildings.

Hearings to finalize the 2015 Intl. Energy Conservation Code from the NBI (New Buildings Institute), www.newbuildings.org, Vancouver, Wash., wrapped up earlier in October, and addressed a diverse set of building technologies and design specifications that would improve commercial building energy performance.

Some of the provisions relate specifically to building automation. For example, the code calls for better controls for lighting and daylighting. The NBI assisted in the development of measures that will increase the mandatory installation of occupancy sensors and daylighting controls to many new types of spaces in areas not covered by the 2012 IECC, such as warehouses and lounge rooms. The 2015 IECC also includes details for how lighting controls should be commissioned.

The code also includes new technology applications for HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems. The measure requires all air-cooled, direct expansion HVAC units be equipped with a fault detection and diagnostics reporting system. This measure was tailored from the California 2013 Title 24 code requirement.

As such mandates that require the use of building automation become more common, construction companies and building owners will need to understand in-building systems. The key for owners will ultimately be being able to access the data.

Organizations such as National Grid, www1.nationalgridus.com, Worcester, Mass., an electricity and gas company in the Northeast United States, understand the importance of energy technologies and energy data. It is for this reason they National Grid unveiled its Sustainability Hub earlier this month.

The Hub has interactive exhibits and demonstrations to educate the industry about how energy solutions can maximize savings. The goal is to help customers understand smart thermostats, smart plugs, smart appliances, and smart meters.

For owners, implementing building technologies and understanding the energy data will be vital to moving smart, energy-efficient buildings forward.