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Residential Energy Code Field Studies

To help improve state and local residential energy code implementation, the DOE Building Energy Codes Program has developed a robust and replicable methodology to assess energy code related measures and associated energy impacts in single-family and low-rise multifamily residential buildings. A residential energy code field study is typically conducted to provide a baseline across high impact energy code measures to inform future state and local education and training programs. Field data collected based on the DOE approved methodology is analyzed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and results, including compliance trends, measure level savings, and average statewide energy usage are provided to the project team. States are encouraged to conduct these types of studies every 3-5 years, or in conjunction with an energy code update, to validate impacts of energy codes and other energy-efficiency initiatives, identify training opportunities, and benchmark technology trends in residential construction.

Single-family Residential Buildings

The map below highlights states that have conducted a single-family field study in the last several years. The vast majority of these states utilized the DOE Residential Building Energy Code Field Study Methodology. In those states, a DOE report and full set of compliance data are available. To find out more about each state’s study, click on the state map or explore this BECP Tableau Public Dashboard for an interactive experience.


The methodology was developed as part of a seven-state pilot research program with an objective to determine whether an investment in energy code education and training programs can produce a significant, measurable change in energy savings for single-family residential buildings.  The pilot studies were comprised of three phases:

  1. Pre-Study: A baseline study to identify the energy use in typical single-family residential buildings in a given state and opportunities for improving energy efficiency
  2. Education and Training: Education, training and outreach activities targeting issues identified through the baseline study
  3. Post-Study: A second study to identify the change in energy use following the education and training activities.

Pilot studies were focused on assessing energy, cost and emissions impacts of non-compliance. Highlights from the updated methodology include:

  • Results to be based on an energy metric and reported at the state-level
  • Focuses on individual code requirements within new single-family homes
  • Data confidentiality built into the experiment—no personal data to be shared
  • Designed around a single site-visit prioritizing key items
  • Designed with statistically significant results in mind

The primary goals of 1) testing whether compliance could be improved through education, training, and outreach activities and 2) projecting the long-term savings from enhanced energy code compliance were achieved. As a result of the pilot, DOE developed a Data Collection and Analysis Methodology to conduct a baseline study. A baseline study utilizing this methodology has been employed in over 20 states thus far.

More information on the field study methodology and supporting research instruments is available below. Technical assistance is available from PNNL, including guidance on the established methodology, customization of sampling plans, and technical analysis of the resulting data set.

    Participating States

    The following states conducted at least one baseline field study using the DOE methodology:

    Participated in Pilot Study:

    Combined Field Study Report

    Conducted Baseline Study:

    • Arizona (coming soon)
    • Colorado (coming soon)
    • Idaho
    • Illinois (report not requested)
    • Iowa (coming soon)
    • Michigan
    • Missouri (report not requested)
    • Montana
    • Nebraska
    • Nevada (coming soon)
    • Oregon
    • South Carolina (coming soon)
    • Tennessee
    • Utah (coming soon)
    • Virginia
    • West Virginia (report not requested)

    Field Study Resources

    Field Study Datasets

    Multifamily Residential Buildings

    DOE developed a similar approach to assessing energy code compliance in low-rise multifamily building types through a pilot project funded in 2016. The goal of this pilot was to validate the impact of building energy codes in low-rise multifamily buildings and identify opportunities for increased energy that can be addressed through workforce education & training programs. This study was employed across four target states (WA, OR, MN & IL) and involved the following activities:

    • Develop a field-based methodology which can be implemented in low-rise multifamily buildings
    • Identify and resolve challenges that are unique to multifamily construction
    • Construct an empirical data set across four target states 
    • Examine envelope air tightness testing protocols and challenges in the multifamily sector
    • Provide recommendations as to how multifamily buildings can be better represented through energy code training and other compliance-improvement programs


    The low-rise multifamily approach was developed and tested through a pilot project funded through a Funding Opportunity Announcement (2016).