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For more than 35 years, DOE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) has championed the development of energy-efficient products and approaches to building design and construction—building technology—and fostered their application and use in the market.
As an integral part of BTO, BECP plays an important role in the acceptance and use of building technology by supporting the development and improvement of energy codes that, when adopted, implemented, and satisfied, create demand for their application and use. Advances in building energy efficiency such as cool roofs, new lighting technologies, and innovative design practices fostered by BTO have an increased impact due to BECP’s support for the adoption of, compliance with, and enforcement of energy codes
In the United States, residential and commercial buildings account for 40% of all energy use and 70% of electricity use. Energy codes that are adopted and satisfied result in less energy use, reduced environmental impacts, and a reduction in energy bills that accrue during the life of every building. In addition, they provide an increase in the resale value of buildings.
Over the last 20 years, BECP has assisted in reducing the nation’s annual energy use by more than 0.3 quads and saving consumers more than $15 billion.
The rate of new building construction and existing building additions or renovations does not allow us to be lax in applying energy codes as an integral tool to address our energy, economic, and environmental challenges. For that reason, the BECP has developed the ACE Learning Series and will continue to support enhancements to buildings through energy codes.
Building energy codes and standards are key to a clean and sustainable energy future.
Building energy codes and standards (hereinafter referred to as energy codes) are minimum energy-efficiency requirements for the design and construction of new buildings and additions and renovations to existing buildings. Energy codes are an integral part of what are called building construction regulations or, more generally, building codes that govern all aspects of buildings from structural integrity to electrical safety and fire protection.
The two most widely adopted energy codes are the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1 (ASHRAE Standard 90.1). The IECC applies to all buildings. ASHRAE Standard 90.1 applies to commercial buildings, which are considered buildings other than single-family dwellings and multifamily buildings three stories or less in height above grade (e.g., residential buildings).
The IECC adopts ASHRAE Standard 90.1 by reference, allowing it to be used and, in some instances, requiring it to be used in lieu of the provisions in the IECC.
Once adopted, these codes are required to be satisfied as a condition for building approval and occupancy; those adopting them, generally state and local governments, will conduct activities to ensure compliance. When adoption of and compliance with energy codes is achieved, buildings will use less energy, helping to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign energy sources and bolstering our economy while addressing our increasing environmental challenges.
This ACE Overview provides a high-level view of energy codes— what they are, their value, and their application. It also serves as a starting point from which to secure additional details on adoption, compliance, and enforcement from ACE toolkits focused on those topics. Whatever your role with buildings—designer, specifier, builder, contractor, product developer, policy maker, elected official, code official, building owner or developer, or consumer—having a firm grasp of energy codes is fundamental to ensuring buildings meet our needs while concurrently using less energy.
By making conscientious efforts to reduce building energy use through energy codes, we help improve the economy and U.S. competitiveness and reduce the impact of buildings on the environment.