The Value of Compliance
When policymakers adopt energy codes, they regularly cite impressive statistics regarding reduced energy use and financial savings. Yet all too often, energy codes fail to reach their potential. Advocates can point to a number of reasons why, but, in the end, it comes down to compliance.
Who is Responsible for Compliance?
Energy code compliance refers to whether the building industry meets the requirements of the energy code at both the design and construction phases. Although it is the responsibility of building professionals to comply with energy code provisions, local and state agencies, energy code advocates, and other stakeholder groups share in this responsibility. Architects, designers, and engineers need training, educational materials, and support in order to design buildings that pass plan review. On the job site, developers, builders, contractors, and sub-contractors, need training, tools, and technical resources regarding code requirements. They also need specialized training in order to correctly install materials and use equipment. Finally, in addition to providing compliance assistance, government agencies and other stakeholders need to enforce the energy code to ensure that buildings comply.
Recovery Act Compliance Requirements
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 raises the bar for energy code compliance. It requires states to adopt mandatory energy codes that meet the 2009 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2007. It also requires states to implement “a plan … achieving compliance with the building energy code…within 8 years of the date of enactment of this Act in at least 90 percent of new and renovated residential and commercial building space.”
Reaching 90 Percent Compliance
Reaching 90 percent compliance by 2017 is a challenging but achievable goal. Each state is at a different stage in the process; from code adoption to implementation and training, from enforcement activities to tracking results. States that have already adopted the model energy codes are primarily focusing on putting together comprehensive implementation plans, or “roadmaps,” to achieve 90 percent compliance. The Department of Energy (DOE), the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and the Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP), as well as many other local, regional, and national stakeholder groups, are able to provide advocacy, technical training and tools, educational resources, and other support to states in these efforts.