Building and Energy Code Development
Code development is the process of updating building and energy-efficiency codes and standards for buildings. These updates can be in response to advances in building products, building science, and/or construction practices. They are also in response to building and infrastructure disasters in our communities nationwide. The International Code Council (ICC) administers the development of the primary national model codes – including the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) in development cycles every three years - and publishes those codes for states and jurisdictions to adopt. The latest cycles have been 2009, 2012 and ICC is currently voting this year on the 2015.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), through the Building Energy Codes Program (BECP), supports this development process by participating in the development of model energy efficiency codes and standards maintained by the International Code Council (ICC) and ASHRAE. DOE activities of interest to code development stakeholders and the public include DOE code change proposals, analysis of building energy efficiency gains through proposed changes, and underlying evaluation methodologies. Model building energy codes and standards address both residential and commercial buildings - DOE strives to cost-effectively reduce energy consumption through participation in model energy code development for both.
There are numerous benefits to development and adoption of the IECC to communities, and the residents and occupants of the buildings in them. These include:
Saving Residents Money
The average U.S. household spends $2,125 on utility costs per year and the commercial sector spends about $183 billion on energy. Buildings constructed to meet the model energy codes use less energy, which reduces utility bills and puts money back into consumers’ pockets, thereby:
Helping Stimulate Local Economies and Creating Jobs
Money not spent on energy bills boost the economy as consumers and businesses can reinvest in other goods and services. In addition, building homes to code strengthens investment in efficient materials and requires quality craftsmanship and labor, which increases overall job growth, and:
Are a VERY cost-effective investment
When amortized over a standard mortgage, the added cost of building to the energy code is just dollars per month, and owners usually realize net savings within the first year. That’s a solid return on investment. Adopting and enforcing strong energy codes is much more cost-effective than trying to improve efficiency through retrofit programs afterward. They also:
Reduce Pollution in our states and communities and improve power grid reliability
Buildings use 70 percent of our electricity. Wasting energy makes power plants work harder and adds stress to our aging electric power grid. Buildings that meet national standards reduce pollution and help the environment while improving grid reliability.
Protect Consumers and their Health and Safety
Policymakers and government leaders should ensure energy codes are enforced as stringently as other life, health, and safety codes. Buildings that meet or exceed national standards are more durable and comfortable and have fewer drafts and better air quality. Energy codes are a smart investment and improve homeowners’ quality of life. Every state and local government should ensure its residents have the right to energy-efficient homes.
For these reasons and more, municipalities have a great deal at stake, and therefore should consider taking part in code, and especially energy code, development at the national level. To take action the first step is to register with the ICC here.
Learn more about how your jurisdiction can participate in the energy code development and adoption process, contact Christopher Doyle, Deputy Director- Energy Services, at 512-557-5186.