How efficient are buildings in your community?
That depends a lot on the building code, which states (and sometimes cities) can use to set minimum standards for energy efficiency. The U.S. DOE has a nice chart of which state has adopted which code, but the following chart is useful in understanding what that means from the standpoint of relative energy efficiency and energy savings. A third of states could save new homeowners anywhere from $150 to $1100 per year in energy costs by upgrading or implementing the most recent International Energy Conservation Code. In many cases, cities have the authority to set more ambitious codes than the state, a great way to use local authority to save residents and businesses money!
Unfortunately, builders often push back on energy codes, which are prescriptive (requiring certain measures such as a certain thickness of wall insulation). But a historic compromise in 2013 suggests that performance-based standards––if verified––could offer a way to let everyone win.
Can your city push the code further? Use ILSR’s interactive Community Power Map to see which states allow cities to set their own building energy codes and check out this table from our 2013 report City Power Play showing which cities have made the move to improve their energy code.
For timely updates, follow John Farrell or Marie Donahue on Twitter, our energy work on Facebook, or sign up to get the Energy Democracy weekly update.