Buildings account for 35% of America’s carbon emissions and 76% of its electricity use. According to the latest projections from the US Energy Information Administration, by 2050, as much electricity will come from fossil fuels (44%) as from renewable sources.
Building codes that incorporate the best available strategies for energy efficiency, not to mention operating costs, are essential to reducing emissions. But he’s only two states to adopt the latest residential and commercial energy laws, according to the Building Codes Assistance Project.
In July, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced plans to provide state and local governments with $225 million in bipartisan Infrastructure Act (BIL) funding to “enhance implementation of the latest building energy legislation.” Announced. The first concept paper for his $45 million grant is expected to be submitted at the end of January. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides an additional $1 billion to advance commercial building standards.
A new analysis by the American Council on Energy Efficiency Economics (ACEEE) identifies which states would benefit most from accessing these funds, taking into account factors such as existing codes, construction activity and climate policies. doing.
Study author Michael Waite, senior manager of ACEEE’s Buildings Program, said the states with the highest upside potential have different political landscapes and circumstances around emissions. The five are Home Rule states and do not have the authority to mandate implementation of the code statewide.
“There are benefits across the country for diverse groups in the state,” says Waite.
Adopting code is just the beginning
Adoption of the Code takes place in the context of the state’s commitment to sustainability. An ACEEE analysis found that nearly half of US states have not set their 2030 emission reduction targets. This is a milestone of global and national efforts.
These include more than half of the 15 states identified as best positioned to benefit from federal funding. On the other hand, Louisiana’s status as the state poised to benefit most from federal assistance is due in part to its commitment to cuts.
Adopting code is just the beginning. Implementation may require training of builders and designers as well as building personnel, and a workforce that can perform projects according to new standards and protocols for inspection must be developed. There may also be some backlash regarding additional costs, but these can be influenced by the skill level of designers and builders and are more than offset by long-term savings.
BIL and IRA funding is intended to help with all of this, but state-level commitments are the driving force behind overcoming obstacles. “We need more states to get involved or major action at the federal level,” says Waite.
Beyond this, the bulk of the approximately $370 billion of the IRA is for tax incentives and for state and local governments to partner with the private sector to develop local economies around energy innovation. has become essential. It’s hard to imagine a state holding back efficiency would be attractive to companies at the forefront of the energy transition.
Autonomous states do not adopt statewide rules, but ACEEE cites as an example of how Colorado can lead. In June 2022, Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation requiring local governments to adopt and enforce the latest version of the Model Energy Code available when updating other building codes.
Chord Ascent Profile
Building codes were in their heyday even before the BIL was enacted, said Gabe Maser, senior vice president of government relations and national strategy at the International Code Council (ICC). His 2020 report for the National Institute of Building Sciences states that “adopting the latest building code requirements is affordable, saving $11 for every dollar invested,” and the latest version get the maximum benefit from.
Building codes were highlighted as a disaster mitigation tool during the previous administration and have gained bipartisan support, and in 2022, the current administration launched a national initiative to promote building codes. “Never before have so many resources been allocated to the niche function of building codes,” he says Maser.
Unlike tax credits and rebates, once the Energy Code is adopted it will apply to all future construction and will apply to renovations as well. This targets building features such as his HVAC, which are the biggest sources of energy waste. The latest code also addresses issues critical to the energy transition, such as energy storage, vehicle charging and on-site energy generation, and defines standards for net zero energy buildings.
Maser considers the staff working on implementing and enforcing the code “the most important people you’ve never heard of.” Energy technology is changing and advancing rapidly, exacerbating these challenges. BIL and IRA resources can be of great help in dealing with this situation.
The ICC recently announced that it will provide free assistance to states preparing proposals for grants from DOE’s Resilient and Efficient Codes and Implementation (RECI) program. Of this $225 million BIL allocation, the first of her $45 million is expected to go to her 10-30 recipients. The funding was just announced on December 19th, but the deadline for concept paper submissions is the end of January 2023.
Stella Carr, ICC’s Energy and Resilience Project Manager, is leading the effort. “Working on federal grants can be a daunting task and can be intimidating,” she says. have realized that they need more support, we can shorten the learning curve and help them stay ahead of their game.”
Not all states or jurisdictions have an energy agency to negotiate this process. In addition to government agencies, other stakeholders in the implementation of the Code can be involved in RECI-funded projects, and she can also assist them through her position with the ICC. she says Carr. ICC members include architects, engineers and builders.
Waits and ACEEE also want to help the state seize the moment. The potential for BIL and IRA investments is enormous, but funding alone will not solve the problem.
“We are very interested in working with states to realize the broad benefits of implementing modern energy laws,” he says. “We are talking to as many people as possible.”
Two-thirds of the $1 billion from the IRA is aimed at moving states to net-zero code. The thoughtful and coordinated use of RECI grants and the first third of IRA funding is essential to pave the way towards the goal of net zero in the building sector by 2045.
According to ICC’s Carr, the current code landscape is fragmented, with some communities using old code and others desperate for the 2024 version. Smaller jurisdictions may be out of sync with state or local priorities. “We want to connect with them wherever they are.”