The energy conservation requirements for new low-rise residential buildings (under four stories in height) took effect on March 1, 1998. These requirements are based on the 1995 Model Energy Code, with Massachusetts-specific amendments.

When building a new low-rise home, there are some general requirements which every building must satisfy. These are found in section J4.0, and include:

  • sealing all holes, gaps, seams, and penetrations that would allow air to leak into or out of the building
  • making sure that insulation is properly installed, without being compressed or damaged
  • installing properly sized heating and/or cooling systems
  • properly sealing all ductwork to prevent heated/cooled air from leaking

Appendix J offers great flexibility in determining a compliant design. There are several alternatives, each of which allows many combinations of insulation, window performance, and heating system efficiency. The methods include:

  • Prescriptive Tables (J5.0)
  • Paper-and-Pencil Trade-off (J6.0)
  • REScheck Software (J7.0)
  • Home Energy Rating (J11.0)

There are also special provisions in Appendix J for additions to existing homes. Section J1.1.2.3 offers a simplified approach to the insulation and window requirements for additions of any size, provided that there is not an excessive amount of glazing in the addition.


Evaluation of Statewide Compliance with Appendix J - The Board of Building Regulations and Standards commissioned a study to evaluate the impact of the residential energy code that took effect in March 1998. The study, conducted by XENERGY, Inc., looked intensively at 186 houses in Massachusetts built in 1999 and 2000. The results of the study are available in pdf format via the links below:

The version of Appendix J linked below is provided for users' convenience. It is not, however, an official version of the code. The only legally binding version of the code is available through the Secretary of State's office, and may be purchased from the State House Bookstore (617-727-2834.) Click above to download the 2000 study of new home compliance with the residential energy code.

  • Text of Appendix J pdf format of    780_cmr_appendixJ_energy.pdf
  • Forms
    • Energy Conservation Form pdf format of    form_bbrs_energy_new_construction.pdf  - This form is not a statewide mandatory form, but many local cities and towns utilize it. You should check with your local building department to make sure that they will accept the form as part of their regular submittals.
    • Consumer Information Form pdf format of    form_bbrs_consumer_sunrooms.pdf  - The Consumer Information Form (found also in Appendix B of the code) is for limited situations only. It applies only to additions to existing homes in which the addition has very high amounts of glazing (greater than 40% of the gross wall and roof.) In such situations, the addition is defined as a "sunroom" and is essentially exempt from insulation requirements. The homeowner must sign the Information Form, and it must be submitted with other permit documents.