Why Energy Codes Matter, and What Cities Can Do

Date: 24 Aug 2018 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

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!

relative energy efficiency of building codes.001

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.


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John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.