Championing Better Building Codes
Although state and local jurisdictions across the US have been adopting increasingly more stringent energy codes in recent years, compliance with them lags behind. Developing strong energy codes, and then ensuring that buildings actually comply with the requirements, is one of the most important, and cost-effective means to increase long-term energy efficiency in buildings and substantially reduce energy use and costs in the US.
By the year 2035, about 75% of the US building stock will be either new or renovated. The energy efficiency and performance requirements of today's building codes therefore have an immense impact on the buildings of tomorrow.
Unlike the EU’s Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings, there is currently no equivalent framework enabling the uniform implementation of such measures to improve building energy efficiency in the U.S. However, a range of national, state, and local government initiatives are underway to promote energy efficiency in buildings. The private sector also plays an important role in both high-performance building research and policy development and adoption.
The building sector and Climate Change
According to our survey “Energy efficiency and energy savings: a view from the building sector", a majority of business leaders in the U.S. consider reducing carbon emissions a core business responsibility, though this is less than in other regions of the world. While more than eight in ten executives in the European Union, India and China agree that cutting carbon emissions is an important business responsibility, in the US, barely 60% of respondents to the survey are of that opinion.
The respondents’ attitude reflects the complexity of the political process in the U.S. Because of the lack of clear national goals or policies related to building energy efficiency and its impact on climate change, the American building sector presents unique challenges and opportunities in terms of advancing new roadmaps for ambitious building energy performance policies, with much of the innovation being driven at the local and regional level.
To find out more about the context in the U.S.: imt.org
IMT has identified three prevailing work focus areas, representing the greatest potential for major energy use mitigations and savings across the United States:
- Building energy code compliance
- Building energy code design and development
- Building energy rating and disclosure policies
For that purpose, the U.S. programme aims to advance national and regional policy roadmaps which can accelerate market transformation by mainstreaming progress toward net-zero energy buildings and deeper retrofitting.
In addition, it provides best practices and recommendations that support:
- Increased state/local energy code compliance and enforcement
- Evolution to performance-based energy codes and compliance practices to set the stage for NZE building codes
- The development of policies and tools such as building energy rating and disclosure, to increase market transparency and awareness of building performance
Project Highlight: Building Energy Code Compliance
IMT is working assiduously to drive up compliance rates with building energy codes. In 2012, the U.S. Hub launched the “Excellence in Energy Code Compliance Awards”, an annual award programme recognizing U.S. jurisdictions that have had great success at improving code compliance on a limited budget. The 2012 awards were granted to three jurisdictions at the International Code Council Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon.
The U.S. Hub has developed a rich set of resources on energy code compliance, aimed at building officials, builders and contractors, and architects. These are available in both print and online formats. In addition, U.S. Hub staff have organized and led targeted trainings on energy code compliance, and are currently working on a coordinated nationwide outreach campaign targeting diverse stakeholders.
For further information about the GBPN U.S. Programme, visit IMT’s website: imt.org
- [Report] Leveraging Building Energy Codes to Maximize Savings
- [Report] Owners of Energy-Efficient Homes are less Likely to Default on Mortgages
- [Report] Framework for Comparing Energy Rating Systems