Codes for Climate: Reducing GHG Emissions through Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code and Specialized Code

Codes for Climate: Reducing GHG Emissions through Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code and Specialized Code


About the Stretch Code and Specialized Code 

At the end of 2022, Massachusetts adopted an updated Stretch Energy Code and a new municipal opt-in Specialized Code to support meeting the State’s and local climate goals for rapidly reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The 299 municipalities that have already adopted the Stretch Code are automatically enrolled into the updated code. The updated residential code went into effect January 1, 2023 and updated commercial code will go into effect on July 1, 2023. The updated Stretch Code requires new construction and major renovations to be more energy efficient and requires a portion of the parking to be equipped for electric vehicle (EV) charging, also known as “EV ready”.  

The new Specialized Code builds upon the updated Stretch Code and allows municipalities to opt-in to even stronger regulations for new construction that will put communities on a path towards net zero emissions. Municipalities interested in adopting the Specialized Code will have to go through a formal adoption process with their City Council or at Town Meeting. Several municipalities have already adopted the new Specialized Code. The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) recommends that a municipality wait at least six months after adopting the new Specialized Code and to start enforcement of the new codes on either July 1, 2023 or January 1, 2024. 

Codes for Climate Webinar Series  

In winter of 2023, MAPC’s Clean Energy Department hosted a series of webinars on the new codes for municipal planning and inspectional services staff, boards and committees, and those interested and involved in building and energy codes. 

Webinar #1: Stretch and Specialized Energy Code Updates and Municipal Adoption (February 14)  

This session featured Joanne Bissetta and Paul Ormond from the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) who spoke on the basics of the updated Stretch Energy Code and the new opt-in Specialized Energy Code. The presentation also touched on how municipalities can adopt the Specialized Code through Town Meeting, and how to obtain guidance from the Green Communities program, including support from their CG Regional Coordinator. 

Webinar #2: Mass Save Electrification Incentives (March 1) 

This session featured speakers from Eversource, National Grid, and several communities. Speakers reviewed Mass Save incentives for energy efficiency and electrification for commercial, multifamily, and single-family new construction, as well as utility incentives for electric vehicle charging infrastructure that align with meeting Stretch Code requirements. Speakers included:  

  • Kimberly Cullinane, Eversource 
  • Denise Rouleau, National Grid  
  • Steve Conte, Eversource  
  • Keegan Ebbets, ICF  
  • Kate Crosby, Acton-Boxborough Regional School District  
  • Nate Dick, Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) 

Additional Resources 

  • The MA Department of Energy Resources (DOER) provides information on the code language, case studies, and detailed technical information here. 
  • Mass Save provides free training and technical support to support building energy code implementation, including trainings for municipal staff, contractors, designers, and architects. New training events are added regularly. 
    • Energy Code Technical Support and Energy Code Training and Events here 
    • Passive House and All-Electric Homes Training for Contractors here  
  • DOER’s Green Communities Program provides resources and support on adopting the Stretch Energy Code and Specialized Code.