Why Adopt an Energy Code?
Building codes are a crucial component of any successful energy policy because they create easy-to-understand minimum requirements for all new construction. In order to enjoy the economic and environmental benefits of an energy efficient building sector, a state or municipality must first go through the process of adopting an energy efficient building code. By adopting building energy codes, a state creates a specific baseline goal to which it can compare current performance and measure success.
Energy Code Adoption Process
The code adoption process differs from state to state, but in most cases codes are adopted through a legislative process (i.e. the code is updated by a bill that is passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor), a regulatory process (i.e. the legislature has granted a state agency the power to issue a code), or, most commonly, through a process that combines elements of both the legislative and regulatory routes. For example, a state legislature might delegate the authority to research and draft a building energy code, but make adoption of the proposed code contingent on a final vote in the legislature.
Model Energy Codes
States do not have to approach adoption from scratch. The Department of Energy recommends that states adopt the latest versions of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE Standard 90.1 (the codes are updated on a three-year cycle) as their codes for residential and commercial buildings, respectively. The requirements laid out in these model codes take into account differences in climate and geography across the country. Adopting these codes (or the equivalent) provides states with construction minimums that are easily achievable using widely available building materials and technologies while also paving the way for a more energy-efficient building sector.