In April 2005, Iowa governor Tom Vilsack issued Executive Order Number 41, directing state agencies to reduce electricity and natural gas use in buildings by an average of 15% by 2010, relative to their energy use in 2000.
In February 2008, Governor Chet Culver issued Executive Order Number 6 (EO 6), rescinding the earlier order and providing for a further 15% reduction in the use of natural gas, fuel oil, electricity, and water in state buildings within 5 years. The new goal also takes into account growth in the state workforce and changes in building operations. A joint committee called the Energy Excellent Buildings Task Force and composed of representatives from various state agencies will provide guidance towards achieving this goal.
This program update is part of Culver's broader Green Government Initiative, which also created a Sustainable Materials Task Force and a Biofuels Task Force.
The Iowa Building Advisory Council encourages the development of building energy codes. The state energy code is reviewed on a three-year code cycle corresponding to publication of the IECC. Written requests for changes to the state energy code can be submitted to the state Building Code Bureau. All suggested code revisions are processed through the state administrative rule-making process involving publication, public comments, and public hearings.
No special inspections are required to demonstrate energy compliance except those done in conjunction with customary local department building inspections.
In areas where a local code has been adopted, including the adoption by the local jurisdiction of the State Building Code, the local jurisdiction is responsible for review and inspection of all buildings. When required by the building official, plans and specifications must be submitted. Where required by the local enforcement agency, plans must be stamped by registered architects and engineers. Field inspections are performed in some jurisdictions prior to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. Certification to the state using the state-furnished compliance form is required. Construction which is subject to the State Building Code and enforcement by the State Building Code Bureau requires submission of construction plans, plan reviews, and inspections by the State Building Code Bureau.
Before electrical hook-up for one- and two-family dwellings, the local utility company requires a statement of review based on compliance with the HHI, issued by the state or the local enforcement agency. A 1995 study (Iowa-Illinois Gas & Electric Company) of new homes in Iowa City found that 93% of the new homes did not meet the MEC. In addition, the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities found in 1995 that only 9% of Iowa communities enforce the MEC.
Residential: For one- and two-family dwellings, the local utility company must obtain a written statement/certification from the builder or homeowner attesting to their compliance with the state energy code. Code enforcement is optional at the local level.
Commercial: Code enforcement is optional at the local level. Construction subject to the State Building Code generally is subject to plan reviews and inspections by the State Building Code Bureau.
On May 6, 2010, Iowa was announced as one of the states that will participate in BECP's Compliance Evaluation Pilot Study.
In 1972 the General Assembly of the state of Iowa passed House File 6, an Act to institute an Iowa building code to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. House File 6 became known as Iowa Code Chapter 103A.
The first energy code was established in 1978, based on the National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards Model Code for Energy Conservation. Since that time, the Iowa building code has been updated based on the latest edition of the MEC, but with minor state modifications.
In May 1997 legislation was passed by the Iowa General Assembly (Iowa Code Chapter 103A) to limit the application of the 1992 MEC to only state-, county-, and city-owned structures and to construction in jurisdictions that have adopted the state building code. The legislation was vetoed on May 29, 1997, by Governor Terry Branstad.
On January 1, 2004, Iowa adopted the 2003 IECC and effective January 1, 2007 adopted the 2006 IECC. On December 8, 2009, the Department of Public Safety, Division of the State Fire Marshal, completed the Administrative Rule process, which updates both the State Building Code and the State Fire Code including the adoption of the 2009 IECC.
The current Iowa State Energy Code (661 Iowa Administrative Code, Chapter 303) applies to all commercial construction, whether new construction or construction work on existing buildings. These requirements also apply to all new construction of one and two family residences, but not to renovation or remodeling of one and two family residences.
Iowa created the Office of Energy Independence to implement the Energy Independence Plan. The State Office of Energy has been moved from the Department of Natural Resources to the Office of Energy Independence. (March 2010)
Minor amendments related to Chapter 1 regarding construction document requirements, inspections, fees, stop work orders, and board of appeals.
Other amendments include:
- Air Infiltration: Air tightness requirement changed from 3 ACH50 to 4 ACH50
- Duct Tightness: Changes requirements from only allowing total duct leakage testing at 4 cfm/100 sq ft to allowing two options: total leakage of 6 cfm/100 sq ft or 4 cfm/100 sq ft leakage to outside.
- Building Cavities: Allows interior building cavities to be used as return ducts; if building cavities are used as return ducts, they must be sealed and tested for tightness with the entire duct system (even if all ducts are located within conditioned space).
- Above-grade wall insulation: Climate Zone 6 prescriptive value changed from (R-20 + 5 or R-13 + 10) to (R-20 or R-13 + 5); U-factor table remains unchanged
- Exempts additions and renovations from the code