States and local jurisdictions across the nation have demonstrated leadership in developing programs and policies that both encourage and require compliance with energy codes, stretch codes (e.g., above-minimum codes) and green building techniques, energy-efficiency practices, and environmentally-friendly procedures. The laws and regulations behind these programs and policies can help states and jurisdictions establish unique policies to address their particular needs.
Model policies for residential and commercial building construction have been identified in the following categories:
Code Adoption and Compliance Policies
Code adoption policies require states and jurisdictions to adopt or update mandatory and voluntary energy codes. These policies often outline and define the adoption process and may require the one-time adoption of a state-specific code or mandate a specific time period in which a state must upgrade to the latest version of a model energy code. Compliance policies require commercial and residential buildings to be in compliance with state or local regulations and building codes.
Energy Conservation Ordinances and Mandatory Upgrade Policies
Energy conservation ordinances require existing buildings to meet minimum energy-efficiency standards at the time of sale or renovation. This may include retro-commissioning measures, an energy audit of the building, or mandatory upgrades.
Exceeding the Code Policies
Exceeding the code policies require or encourage commercial and residential buildings to exceed the minimum code adopted by a state or jurisdiction. These policies may require that all projects achieve the same percentage of efficiency over the state or model energy code or that a particular project achieve an efficiency level over the adopted code.
Energy Audit, Benchmarking, and Disclosure Policies
Energy audit, benchmarking, and disclosure policies make sure that an accurate model of the energy consumption of a building or home is captured. Energy audits can be used to assess the amount of energy a building uses, implement energy-efficiency strategies, and help make informed energy decisions. Benchmarking may be used to compare buildings or homes of similar size and occupancy type, or as a means to measure the reduction of energy usage over time. Energy disclosure allows commercial buildings as well as residential homes, to be rated on the measure of the building's energy efficiency, with ratings being disclosed to the public or to entities requiring knowledge of energy performance.
Retro-commissioning policies require that diagnostic and functional tests be implemented to identify low-cost maintenance and operational improvements that increase efficiency, indoor air quality, and occupant comfort and make sure that all building systems perform as designed.
Net-Metering and Sub-Metering Policies
Net-metering and sub-metering policies allow building owners, property managers, utilities, and tenants to monitor the amount of energy used throughout a building. Net-metering systems capture total building energy use on a monthly, daily, or hourly basis, including average and peak energy use. Sub-metering systems in commercial and multi-family residential buildings allow for the individual tenancy billing of utilities and can be required for individual systems and components.
Lighting Upgrade Policies
Lighting upgrade policies can be implemented in commercial and residential buildings to reduce lighting energy use and heat gain, maximize energy savings, and improve lighting quality. Lighting upgrades include the proper design, installation, operation, and retrofits of lighting systems, fixtures, and controls.
Green Building Policies
Green building codes and beyond-code (e.g., stretch codes) programs offer interested states and local jurisdictions the means needed to improve energy efficiency, water conservation, and overall sustainability of their communities and buildings. Beyond-code programs incorporate all aspects of the life cycle of a building or home, from the initial design and construction phases to the operation of the building long after it has been occupied.
Water Conservation and Landscaping Policies
States and jurisdictions are reducing water consumption by implementing water and landscaping policies and programs. Water conservation programs include indoor water-use reduction, increased equipment water efficiency, outdoor water-use reduction, alternative water sources, and water metering and automatic controls.
Incentive policies can be used to increase the use and implementation of green building techniques and encourage participation in third-party programs, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and Green Globes. Effective incentives are designed to save builders and building owners' time and/or money, build capacity through training or design assistance, or add value to a business through subsidized marketing.
Environmental sustainability and efficiency policies extend beyond the design, construction, and operation of buildings. States and jurisdictions have developed programs and policies related to alternative energy and utility sources, biofuel utilization, and the funding of further energy research and education.
States and jurisdictions are incorporating innovative efficiency activities into public policy. New policies for commercial and residential buildings include renewable energy purchasing, material conservation and waste avoidance, green procurement, hybrid vehicles, and zoning requirements, among many others.