2009 Energy Code Adoptions Required by ARRA – Where Are They Now?

by Shari Shapiro

A long time ago in a first term far away, there was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a.k.a the Stimulus.

As explained by the DOE, the ARRA section on State Energy Program funding included a statutory provision (Section 410) linking SEP funding to building energy code adoption and enforcement. As a condition of accepting the ARRA funding, the states provided assurances through governor’s letters indicating their state would comply with the terms of Section 410.

All 50 states took ARRA SEP money, and all 50 governors provided commitment letters committing to do three things relating to building energy codes:

  • Adopt a building energy code for residential buildings that meets or exceeds the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC),
  • Adopt a building energy code for commercial buildings and high rise residential that meets or exceeds the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2007, and;
  • Develop and implement a plan, including active training and enforcement provisions, to achieve 90% compliance with the target codes by 2017, including measuring current compliance each year.

In the four years since ARRA, eighteen states still have no energy code at all or have residential codes that do meet the ARRA requirements, and fifteen states still have no energy code at all or have commercial codes that do not meet the ARRA requirements. A map of the status of every state’s energy codes is available here.

I have not been able to find state annual compliance reports or a report by the DOE Office of the Inspector General on the building code commitment aspect of the ARRA funding. So, there is little, if any, data on when or whether states will comply with their ARRA commitments. [NOTE: I would welcome being proven wrong in this area. If you have data, please send me a link and put it in the comment section].

Given the vast research that building energy codes are an inexpensive way to achieve energy efficiency, it was a really good idea to tie the ARRA funding to energy code adoption. Unfortunately, lack of enforcement of ARRA commitments appears to be a missed opportunity to move the country forward in this area.

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