As our country continues to focus on saving energy and reducing emissions in the face of global climate change, it is turning to the building sector for viable solutions. The effects of energy use in residential and commercial buildings are nationwide, worldwide and varied. In the U.S. alone, residential and commercial buildings account for 40% of all energy consumption and 70% of electricity usage.
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The U.S. Department of Energy's Building Energy Codes Program offers experience ranging from energy to wastewater and all sections of green building programs in between.
The purpose of this brief is to provide a discussion related to amending or not amending model codes and standards when adopting them at the federal, state, or local level. It was considered necessary based on the significant amendment activity related to energy code adoption and the observation that in almost every case mistakes are made—some as significant as inadvertently excluding key building types from the code. In some cases, governing bodies will opt to amend with the goal of increasing energy savings; this is positive, and it is necessary to have states that are trendsetters with regard to efficiency. However, it is sometimes possible for amendment activities to yield the opposite result because of increased debate about the technical provisions and the “islanding” of jurisdictions with respect to the support infrastructure available for implementation and compliance with the model codes and standards.