Department of Energy releases code-related resources in support of International Energy Conservation Code, electric vehicles
Buildings are central to any strategy to address energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The progression of energy codes are a valuable tool to enhance resilience and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Federal, state and local governments have committed to reducing energy use and GHG emissions by setting either emission reductions goals or establishing zero-energy building targets. The U.S. federal government has adopted decarbonization policies to reduce emissions, support green job growth, improve equity and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The U.S. administration has set a target to achieve a 50- to 52-percent reduction in economy-wide GHG emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. In accordance with the nationally declared contribution, the U.S. has set zero-energy building goals of 2030 for new construction and 2050 for all buildings.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has taken the lead in helping advance building-level initiatives that will help communities and the buildings industry achieve their energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction goals. The DOE Building Energy Codes Program (BECP) is enhancing its efforts to support building energy codes and assist state and local governments to embrace the latest standards to support national climate goals. The DOE BECP is continuing its mission to engage stakeholders for current model code adoption, ensuring all voices and interests are accounted for in the code development and adoption processes and empower communities to serve their unique needs through energy codes.
During the National Energy Codes Conference, held virtually July 20–22, 2021, the DOE highlighted the importance of energy codes and released numerous resources to support their adoption. Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm challenged state and local governments to ensure their energy codes are up to date stating, “We need state and local officials to step up. You are the only ones who can adopt and implement smart and ambitious building codes. We’re asking you to join us in this push.” The department is expanding and strengthening its technical assistance to facilitate further code adoption and compliance of current codes that enhance the decarbonization of the nation’s building stock.
The department released final determinations on the latest editions of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE Standard 90.1, triggering state requirements to review their current codes and determine if updates are required. State certifications of this review process are due to the DOE by July 28, 2023. The determination found that the residential provisions of the 2021 IECC will save 9.4 percent of energy and 8.7 percent carbon emissions over the 2018 IECC. This represents a roughly 40-percent improvement in energy efficiency compared to the 2006 edition.
The DOE and its Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) also issued multiple resources furthering the case for adoption of up-to-date energy codes, including national and state-level analysis on cost savings to homeowners and job creation. For example, if all states updated to the 2021 IECC more than 22,000 jobs will be created in the first year and more than 632,000 jobs over 30 years. Building energy codes are projected to result in $138 billion in energy cost savings or 13 quads of primary energy savings, equivalent to 900 million metric tons of avoided carbon emissions, from 2010 to 2040. This analysis results in $162 annual savings per residential unit.
These resources are invaluable in supporting the Code Council’s Code on a Mission campaign introduced in July. The campaign aims to get 115 million people, over a third of the U.S. population, covered by energy codes that meet or exceed the requirements of the 2021 IECC by the end of 2023. The campaign toolkit helps support adoption, including references to resources developed by the DOE, national labs and supporting organizations.
In addition to the IECC support resources, the DOE has recognized that many communities are looking for guidance on additional GHG reduction policies. The Code Council Board of Directors identified a similar need in the new energy efficiency and GHG reduction framework released in March, Leading the Way to Energy Efficiency: A Path Forward on Energy and Sustainability. Under the framework, the Code Council will produce resource documents to assist communities in implementing policies alongside their adoption of the IECC and International Green Construction Code.
Requirements for the deployment of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in buildings is one such policy. With input from Code Council staff, the DOE and PNNL released a technical brief on EV Charging for Residential and Commercial Energy Codes. The Code Council is currently engaging stakeholders to produce a complimentary resource on EV charging infrastructure that will be available later this summer.
For updates on the Code Council’s energy and GHG-reduction activities, visit www.iccsafe.org/energy.