Step 1. Understand the Benefits of Code Adoption
Before beginning the code adoption process, states and jurisdictions should understand the benefits realized through energy code adoption.
The primary goal of an energy code or standard is to conserve energy. Commercial buildings and residential households in the United States consume nearly 50% of the nation's total primary energy, 70% of the nation's electricity, and account for one-third of the nation's greenhouse emissions.1 A report by the McKinsey Global Institute found that America could reduce energy use in new and existing buildings by more than one quarter by 2020 with measures that pay for themselves within 10 years.2 Energy code adoption enables new and renovated residential and commercial structures to achieve the energy efficiency outlined in the code.
In addition to energy efficiency, energy codes:
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) conducted a study on the number of jobs associated with green building practices. The results show that the economic impact from green building construction is significant and will continue to grow as the demand for green buildings rises.
Green construction spending currently supports over 2 million jobs and generates over $100 billion in gross domestic product and wages. By the year 2013, this study estimates that green buildings will support nearly 8 million jobs across occupations ranging from construction managers and carpenters to truck drivers and cost estimators. USGBC also supports job creation and economic activity. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). LEED-related spending has already generated 15,000 jobs since 2000, and by 2013 this study forecasts that an additional 230,000 jobs will be created.
- Save money. The energy and cost savings that result from adoption of energy codes can be significant. It is estimated that building energy codes will produce a financial benefit to owners of nearly $2 billion annually by 2015, rising to over $15 billion annually by 2030. This benefit is achieved by saving over 14 quadrillion Btu of energy from 2009–2030, an estimated annual savings of 1.7 quadrillion Btu by 2030.3 Consider this case in point: Studies show that transforming the building sector to employ more energy-efficient design, equipment, and solar power could cut projected overall household energy expenses from $285 billion to $130 billion by 2030. Failing to catalyze building sector transformations will raise the cost of meeting long-term climate goals by at least $500 billion per year globally.4
- Reduce emissions. Buildings use a significant amount of energy and, as a result, create considerable emissions. The projected savings from energy codes translates into an estimated cumulative savings by 2030 of 800 million metric tons of CO2—equivalent to removing 145 million vehicles from our nation's roadways. A study conducted by the Climate Policy Initiative found that states that adopted federal building energy codes reduced household energy usage by 10% and household greenhouse gas emissions by 16% from 1986–2008.5
- Create jobs. The innovative use of improved technology in buildings and the increasing need for energy code experts will create employment opportunities around the nation. As new codes are created for greater energy efficiency in buildings, many new jobs will become available, including technical experts, duct and air leakage professionals, quality control assessors, building and system commissioning agents, energy auditors, and compliance officers. Completing project retrofits and building weatherization will create new employment opportunities as well.
- Protect consumers and support grid reliability. Energy codes reduce utility costs, improve indoor air quality and reduce emissions—protecting consumers and bolstering the economy. More stringent energy code provisions reduce heating and cooling costs, not only making comfortable living conditions more affordable, but also putting money back into the pockets of consumers. Additional funds allow consumers to spend more on other goods and services—individuals have more money to spend on items in the local economy and business owners have more money to spend on business improvements, including investments and employee benefits. Energy code provisions also reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, improving the indoor air quality of homes and businesses and keeping consumers comfortable and healthy. Knowing the energy efficiency of buildings and homes also allows consumers to make educated, informed decisions when buying, renting, or leasing a building and protects them from expensive utility bills and future retrofits. Through system sizing and increased controls, energy codes are able to curb the impact that buildings have on the energy grid. By decreasing the impact and peak loads of buildings, energy codes help lessen the stress on the grid, which increases grid reliability. In addition, energy codes that reduce building energy consumption also help reduce our nation's dependency on foreign energy sources.
- Improve health. The Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP) reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that burning fossil fuels contributed to numerous health issues, such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and low birth weight, among others. As a result, health care costs have increased to cover emergency room and hospital expenses. Energy-efficient buildings reduce fossil fuel emissions and thus lower the risk of related health issues.
States and jurisdictions will benefit greatly by understanding and discussing the benefits of code adoption in relation to their particular energy goals. It is important, however, to understand that the benefits of code adoption vary greatly by audience. Consumers and building owners will generally be interested in much different code benefits than an elected official or policymaker.
When discussing the benefits of energy code adoption, tailor your argument towards a specific audience. BECP and the Online Code Environment and Advocacy Network (OCEAN) have created resource guides to educate groups and individuals interested in and affected by energy code adoption. These resource guides, as well as additional pamphlets, fact sheets, and benefit overviews are listed in the resources section in this step.
In addition, producing a fact sheet that is state- or jurisdiction-specific may have the greatest impact on the intended audience. Mississippi, for example, has created a suite of energy code fact sheets for residential and commercial energy codes as they relate to the build environment in the state (Resources 1-3 in this step). These fact sheets highlight code benefits, energy savings, case studies, and additional resources. State-specific information regarding incremental cost analysis, including break-even point and return on investment, for upgrading to the 2009 and 2012 IECC is available through the OCEAN website and could be used to compile an energy code fact sheet for your state.
- Energy Codes Create Better Homes
- Residential Energy Codes Build a Better Bottom Line
- Commercial Energy Codes Build a Better Bottom Line
- Why Energy Codes Matter: What Advocates Need to Know
- Why Energy Codes Matter: What Policy Makers Need to Know
- Why Energy Codes Matter: What Consumers Need to Know
- Building Energy Codes Resource Guide for Policy Makers
- Top Ten Reasons for Building Energy Codes
- Building Energy Codes Fact Sheet
- Why Adopt Energy Codes?
- Building Codes for Energy Efficiency
- Green Jobs Study
- Alliance to Save Energy. 2010. Building Energy Codes Fact Sheet
- Alliance to Save Energy. 2010. Building Energy Codes Fact Sheet
- Belzer P, M Halverson, and S McDonald. 2010. A Retrospective Analysis of Commercial Building Energy Codes: 1990-2008. Building Energy Codes Program, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington.
- Houser T. 2009. The Economics of Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Policy Brief 09-17, Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington, D.C. Accessed January 13, 2009.