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Code Source: Energy Conservation Code

Book Review of:
Code Source: Energy Conservation Code

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Review of Code Source: Energy Conservation Code, by Author (Hardcover, 2011)

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)


First, it's important to define the scope of this book. This book helps illustrate, explain, and clarify the requirements of the International Code Council's International Energy Conservation Code.

It's intended to be a quick reference guide. It's not meant to be a comprehensive tutorial, nor is it meant to substitute for the ICC Energy Conservation Code. The intended reader is a skilled practitioner or professional in the construction industry, and that reader is familiar with applying various construction codes. This is not a layman's book. The reader should use it as a companion to the Code.

Second, a little about my qualifications for writing this review. I've:

  • Been writing for various construction publications for nearly twenty years.
  • Co-authored several energy standards.
  • Done extensive editorial work on electrical training guides.
  • Written extensively on interpreting and correctly applying the National Electrical Code.

So when I look at a reference on how to apply any code, I do that with an industry editor's eye. I've seen the full range of quality in such guides. This one comes in at the high end.

This guide proceeds in Code order. So if you're reading the Code from cover to cover, you could follow along in this guide from cover to cover also. But the more likely way you will use it is to look up a given section in the IECC, and then refer to this guide for explanation.

One reason people get confused when trying to apply a given code is they skip over the first parts, which lay the foundation for the requirements that follow. This is a huge mistake. Yes, it can be a bit sleep-inducing, due to the typical legalese, passive voice, and clumsy text that normally comprises such material. The IECC, fortunately, is better than most standards in this regard. Still, it helps to have an explanatory reference and this guide does not disappoint.

In fact, I really like the way this guide covers that part of the IECC. So, my suggestion is to read the relevant part of this guide first, then those parts of the IECC. The good news is this guide covers that in only 4 pages, and it does so mostly with clean, easy to understand graphics.

Once you've done that, you'll be ready to apply any of the requirements of the IECC. As you read those, you can refer to this guide. You'll find the Table of Contents upfront, and from there you can go to the page that you need. There's also a detailed index.

Throughout the text, you'll find the IECC Section called out so you don't get lost when paging through. Just to make sure, the subheadings are in large white font on a page-wide blue bar.

The author, Donald J.Sivigny, did a great job of summarizing what's important in each IECC Section. I had no problem understanding this. Each summary consists of "Code Points," which are in bulleted format and state the key points of the requirement. For many of these, there's also an illustrative photo or illustration. Another feature for most of these is a sidebar box called "Keys to Compliance." This was helpful in making sure the main ideas get communicated. This guide also contains tables from the IECC. It's nice to have them right there with the explanations of the requirements.

When I was on the editorial desk of a major electrical publication, a common complaint we got from readers was that the National Electrical Code was too complicated. A common reply was that the proper application of electricity is complicated. It's no simple endeavor. So it is with energy requirements, and these will get more involved with each code cycle. Having a guide like this not only helps the contractor correctly apply the code, but it also helps the sales engineer explain to the customer why particular work must be done in a particular way.

Building energy efficiency into the design is far less expensive than going back later and retrofitting. Many of the energy conservation measures are actually free or very close to it. You can choose to do the work one way and be more wasteful, or another way and be less wasteful; the cost is about the same.

Being able to communicate the difference to a potential client or customer can make the difference in getting the contract (especially if you're outbid by another firm that can't explain very clearly). Being able to implement this in the field can make the difference between a profitable job and one that loses money due to callbacks or penalties.

For the typical contractor involved in new construction, this book can easily pay for itself several times over on a single project. It's well worth buying.



About these reviews

You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?

I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?

And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.

This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.

My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.

A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.

About your reviewer

  • Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I listen to audio books.
  • Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or no substance. That leads into my next point...
  • In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
  • I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher submitted it to the local paper.
  • For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that publication (and for other publications).
  • No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably 20,000 articles ago! (It's been a while).
  • I have an engineering degree and an MBA, among other "quant" degrees. That helps explain my methodical approach toward reviews.
  • You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for whatever it's worth.

About reading style

No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.

Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.

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