When Texans look to their state capital, they see a diverse and sprawling metropolis of just under a million people, a vibrant cultural and economic hub, and a downtown skyline undergoing rapid transformation. Less visible at is the city’s long and continued commitment to the energy efficiency of its built environment. Austin stands as a fine example of how a city can go beyond minimum statewide requirements to give its residents a better, greener future. In addition to adopting strong energy codes, the city has also taken a significant interest in renewable energy, including solar.
In September 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced eight states that would participate in a three year Residential Energy Code Field Study. The states include: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas. Through the project, DOE plans to establish a sufficient data set to represent statewide construction trends and detect significant changes in energy use from training, education and outreach activities. Through the project, DOE plans to establish a sufficient data set to represent statewide construction trends and detect significant changes in energy use from training, education and outreach activities.
More people in Oklahoma and Texas will soon enjoy the benefits of a stronger local energy code community through the work of twelve newly-certified Energy Code Ambassadors. These volunteers will work under the auspices of the South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource (SPEER), the newest regional energy efficiency organization. SPEER’s Ambassadors are well suited to impact building practices in the one region where the most new building is occurring, creating more efficient, durable and affordable buildings.
The South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource (SPEER) and BCAP provided thirteen building code professionals advanced training to become certified Energy Code Ambassadors in the state of Texas. These experienced code enforcement professionals have stepped forward to offer their expertise and assistance to other building departments and the construction industry, to assure that construction of buildings and homes comply with the energy code, providing greater energy efficiency.
Energy Code Ambassadors are experienced building code officials who have been specially trained and certified on the energy code, and volunteer to offer their expertise and assistance to other code professionals in their state. They provide customized assistance to other code professionals or the construction and design industry. For example, in working with neighboring building departments, they provide an overview of the state energy code, assist with a plan review or site inspection, discuss compliance software such as REScheck or COMcheck, or present a specific topic such as air barriers, or mechanical requirements.
In the wake of the Great Recession in 2009, Congress passed the Recovery Act to stimulate the national economy. Within that legislation, a pot of $3.1 billion in expanded State Energy Program (SEP) funding was linked to commitments from states to update their building energy codes and to develop plans to achieve greater rates of compliance by 2017. By January 2014, BCAP projects that about two of every three U.S. states will have implemented building energy codes that meet or exceed the energy efficiency of the model codes referenced by the Recovery Act – the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007. In finding methods of reaching these goals, a common best practice emerged: establishing a state Energy Code Compliance Collaborative.
On August 22, BCAP hosted an information sharing webinar on an emerging best practice in building energy codes: state Energy Code Compliance Collaboratives. A compliance collaborative is a forum for experts from diverse stakeholder groups impacted by energy codes to come together to work toward common interests and goals.