About Building Energy Codes

U.S. Energy Consumption by Sector (2011)
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Electric Power Annual, U.S. residential and commercial buildings account for approximately 41% of all energy consumption and 72% of electricity usage. Building energy codes increase energy efficiency in buildings, resulting in significant cost savings in both the private and public sectors of the U.S. economy. Efficient buildings reduce power demand and have less of an environmental impact.

The Purpose of Building Energy Codes

Energy codes and standards set minimum efficiency requirements for new and renovated buildings, assuring reductions in energy use and emissions over the life of the building. Energy codes are a subset of building codes, which establish baseline requirements and govern building construction. Code buildings are more comfortable and cost-effective to operate, assuring energy, economic and environmental benefits. The reduction in energy expenditures also correlates to a mitigated dependency on foreign oil, impacting national security. In light of these fundamental environmental issues, economic challenges, and uncertain energy costs, building energy codes are a key component of sound public policy.

By 2035, 75% of the buildings in the U. S. will be new or renovated per Architecture 2030. As a building’s operation and environmental impact is largely determined by upfront decisions, energy codes present a unique opportunity to assure savings through efficient building design, technologies, and construction practices. Once a building is constructed, it can be significantly more expensive to achieve higher efficiency levels. Including energy as a fundamental part of the building construction process and making early investments in energy efficiency yields benefits for all owners and occupants for years into the future.

DOE Role

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), through the Building Energy Codes Program (BECP), supports energy efficiency in buildings through the development and implementation of model codes and standards. DOE also provides technical assistance to states and localities as they adopt and enforce energy codes. The DOE role surrounding building energy codes is defined by statutory requirements.

Current program goals include:

  • Model energy codes and standards targeted at 50% energy savings over the 2006 IECC for residential buildings and Standard 90.1—2004 for commercial buildings.
  • Adoption of the 2009 IECC for residential buildings and Standard 90.1—2007 for commercial buildings by 70% of U.S. states and territories by 2015.
  • A 90% compliance rate with the 2009 IECC for residential buildings and Standard 90.1—2007 for commercial buildings by 2017.

For more information on how DOE increases energy efficiency through Building Energy Codes, please visit the following program sections:

  • Promote efficient building practices through the Development of model energy codes and standards.
  • Support energy code Adoption and implementation in states and local jurisdictions.
  • Assist the building industry stakeholders and enforcement officials to achieve Compliance with energy codes.
  • Establish Regulations for energy efficiency in Federal buildings and manufactured housing.
  • Provide a variety of Resources, including: compliance tools, training materials, and technical assistance options.

The Building Energy Codes Program (BECP) is part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Building Technologies Office (BTO), within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). View the Building Energy Codes Program Fact Sheet.

Statutory Requirements

The Building Energy Codes Program supports the development and implementation of energy efficient codes and standards. The DOE role was defined through federal legislation, with activities fulfilling several key statutory requirements.

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Program Impact Analysis

The Building Energy Codes Program is estimated to save consumers up to $230 billion on their utility bills by 2040.

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