Performance vs Prescriptive Path

Understanding Paths to Energy Code Compliance

The energy code path is a set of regulations that dictate the minimum energy efficiency requirements for buildings. The two main paths that builders can follow to meet these requirements are the performance energy code path and the prescriptive energy code path. This feature comparison document aims to provide residential builders with a comprehensive and easy-to-understand comparison between these two paths.


Performance Energy Code Path

The performance energy code path is a performance-based approach that uses energy modeling to determine a building’s energy efficiency. It requires builders to demonstrate that their building meets or exceeds the minimum energy efficiency requirements by using an energy simulation software tool that calculates the building’s predicted energy consumption. The performance energy code path offers several benefits, including:

  • Flexibility: Builders have the flexibility to use any combination of building components and systems that meet or exceed the minimum energy efficiency requirements.
  • Innovation: Builders can use innovative and advanced energy-efficient building practices that may not be explicitly outlined in the prescriptive path.
  • Tailored to building design: The performance energy code path is tailored to the specific building design, allowing builders to optimize energy efficiency based on the building’s unique characteristics.

Prescriptive Energy Code Path

The prescriptive energy code path is a prescriptive-based approach that provides a set of minimum requirements for specific building components and systems. The prescriptive path lists out specific requirements for insulation, windows, HVAC systems, lighting, and other building components. The prescriptive energy code path offers several benefits, including:

  • Simplicity: The prescriptive path is simple to understand and follow, as builders only need to adhere to a specific set of requirements.
  • No energy modeling required: The prescriptive path does not require energy modeling, which can save builders time and money.
  • Known performance: The prescriptive path provides a known level of performance and certainty that the building will meet the minimum energy efficiency requirements.


Performance vs. Prescriptive

FeaturePerformance Energy Code PathPrescriptive Energy Code Path
Energy modeling requiredYesNo
Tailored to building designYesNo
No energy modeling requiredNoYes
Known performanceNoYes


Energy Diagnostics is dedicated to improving the efficiency, environmental impact, and comfort of single and multifamily residential buildings.

For 30 years we have helped optimize building performance by providing energy code compliance, testing, and certification services. We draw on our experience of working on thousands of projects throughout the country to provide customized solutions for your project’s specific energy efficiency needs. Our comprehensive scope of services helps building professionals ensure their project meets or exceeds energy efficiency thresholds. 

If it has to do with energy code and performance, we are here to help. Let’s build something great together.