Statutory Requirements

DOE activities surrounding building energy codes are defined by the following statutory requirements. Specific language outlining federal requirements and associated regulations are outlined below. References are also provided to individual statutes.

State Building Energy Efficiency Codes

Statutory Authority: Energy Conservation and Production Act (ECPA) (Pub. L. No. 94-385), as amended1

Section 304(a) of ECPA, as amended, provides that when the 1992 Model Energy Code (MEC), or any successor to that code2, is revised, the Secretary must determine, not later than 12 months after the revision, whether the revised code would improve energy efficiency in residential buildings and must publish notice of the determination in the Federal Register. (42 U.S.C. 6833(a)(5)(A)) Similarly, section 304(b) of ECPA, as amended, provides that whenever the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1–1989, or any successor to that code, is revised, the Secretary must make a determination, not later than 12 months after such revision, whether the revised code would improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings and must publish notice of such determination in the Federal Register. (42 U.S.C. 6833(b)(2)(A)) The Department, consistent with the International Code Council (ICC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) considers high-rise (greater than three stories) multifamily residential buildings and hotel, motel, and other transient residential building types of any height as commercial buildings for energy code purposes. Low-rise residential buildings include one- and two-family detached and attached buildings, duplexes, townhouses, row houses, and low-rise multifamily buildings (not greater than three stories) such as condominiums and garden apartments.

If the Secretary determines that the revision to the residential code would improve energy efficiency then, not later than two years after the date of the publication of the affirmative determination, each State is required to certify that it has compared its residential building code regarding energy efficiency to the revised code and made a determination whether it is appropriate to revise its code to meet or exceed the successor code. (42 U.S.C. 6833(a)(5)(B)) State determinations are to be made: (1) after public notice and hearing; (2) in writing; (3) based upon findings included in such determination and upon evidence presented at the hearing; and (4) available to the public. (See, 42 U.S.C. 6833(a)(5)(C)) In addition, if a State determines that it is not appropriate to revise its residential building code, the State is required to submit to the Secretary, in writing, the reasons, which are to be made available to the public. (See, 42 U.S.C. 6833(a)(5)(C))

If the Secretary determines that revision to the commercial code would improve energy efficiency then, not later than two years after the date of the publication of the affirmative determination, each State is required to certify that it has reviewed and updated its commercial building code regarding energy efficiency in accordance with the revised standard for which the Secretary has made a positive determination. (42 U.S.C. 6833(b)(2)(B)(i)) Such certification must include a demonstration that the provisions of such State's commercial building code regarding energy efficiency meet or exceed such revised standard.

ECPA, as amended, also requires the Secretary to permit extensions of the deadlines for the State certification if a State can demonstrate that it has made a good faith effort to comply with the requirements of section 304(a) and(b) of ECPA and that it has made significant progress in doing so. (42 U.S.C. 6833(c)) DOE is also directed to provide technical assistance to states to support implementation of state residential and commercial building energy efficiency codes. (42 U.S.C. 6833(d))

Federal Building Energy Efficiency Codes

Statutory Authority: Energy Conservation and Production Act (ECPA) (Pub. L. No. 94-385), as amended.3

Section 305 of ECPA, as amended, requires DOE to establish building energy efficiency standards for all new Federal buildings. (42 U.S.C. 6834(a)(1)) The standards must require energy efficiency measures that are technologically feasible and economically justified. The established standards must contain energy savings and renewable energy specifications that meet or exceed the energy savings and renewable energy specifications of the referenced voluntary consensus energy codes. (42 U.S.C. 6834(a)(1)-(3)) The referenced voluntary consensus code for commercial buildings (including multi-family high rise residential buildings) is the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1 and the referenced code for low-rise residential buildings is the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). (42 U.S.C. 6834(a)(2)(A))

Also under section 305 of ECPA, as amended, the Federal building energy efficiency performance standards for new Federal buildings must require that such buildings be designed to achieve energy consumption levels that are at least 30 percent below the levels established in the referenced codes, if life-cycle cost-effective. (42 U.S.C. 6834(a)(3)(A)(i)(I)) Not later than one year after the date of approval of each subsequent revision of the ASHRAE Standard or the IECC, DOE must determine whether to amend the Federal building standards with the revised voluntary standard based on the cost-effectiveness of the revised voluntary standard. (42 U.S.C. 6834(a)(3)(B))

The current Federal building energy efficiency performance standards are established in Parts 433 and 435 of title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Section 306(a) of ECPA, as amended, provides that each Federal agency and the Architect of the Capitol must adopt procedures to ensure that new Federal buildings will meet or exceed the Federal building energy efficiency standards established under section 305. (42 U.S.C. 6835(a)) Section 306(b) bars the head of a Federal agency from expending Federal funds for the construction of a new Federal building unless the building meets or exceeds the applicable Federal building energy standards established under section 305. (42 U.S.C. 6835(b))

DOE Participation in the Code Development Processes

Statutory Authority: Energy Conservation and Production Act (ECPA) (Pub. L. No. 94-385), as amended.

Finally, Section 307 of ECPA, as amended, requires DOE to periodically review the technical and economic basis of the voluntary building energy codes, and participate in the industry process for review and modification, including seeking adoption of all technologically feasible and economically justified energy efficiency measures. (42 U.S.C. 6836(b))

Manufactured Housing Energy Efficiency Codes

Statutory Authority: Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) (Pub. L. No. 110-140)

Section 413 of EISA 2007 requires DOE to establish energy efficiency standards for manufactured housing. Specifically, EISA 2007 directs that DOE base the standards on the most recent version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) (including supplements), except in cases in which the Secretary finds that the IECC is not cost-effective, or a more stringent standard would be more cost-effective, based on the impact of the IECC on the purchase price of manufactured housing and on total life-cycle construction and operating costs. (42 U.S.C. 17071)

For further information on statutory requirements fulfilled, visit Laws DOE Administers.


1 Energy Conservation and Production Act (ECPA) (Pub. L. No. 94-385), as amended by the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPACT 1992) (Pub. L. No. 102-486), the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005) (Pub. L. No. 109-58) and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) (Pub. L. No. 110-140).