Each state approaches the energy code adoption process differently. In most states, codes are adopted through the state congress and pass through both the house and senate sides. In other states, there are appointed commissions or committees that will make recommendations for adoption. Furthermore, in some states the fire marshal has the authority to make changes or updates to the code. Ultimately, please look at your state’s informational page to get an accurate idea of how the government deals with code adoption.
No matter who is making the decisions on energy codes, making your voice heard is invaluable to the adoption process. Writing a personal letter is always a good step. However, an organized collective effort has more effect. Please find more about your state’s code adoption process and contact the appropriate entity.
State code officials assure the public that design professionals have met minimum standards, monitor existing structures for code compliance, and assist in compliance with the laws governing state’s residential and commercial building codes.
Code officials will commonly form a board or association in the state. These boards or associations serve to:
- Assemble with other government officials and organized groups concerned with codes and ordinances to exchange ideas and to discuss mutual concerns.
- Assist the state’s municipalities and counties with the organization and maintenance of adequate code enforcement departments, codes, and ordinances.
- Develop courses of instruction concerning new materials and methods of construction in cooperation with recognized educational institutions and to promote proper interpretation, enforcement, and administration of codes and ordinances.
Utility providers have two major incentives to play a role in building energy code adoption and compliance: reducing peak energy demand and slowing the growth of needed future capacity. Embracing energy efficiency as a fuel source on par with fossil fuels and renewables can save substantially on operating costs and future capital costs.
As the most prominent gatekeepers between consumers and the nation’s energy infrastructure, utilities can successfully promote the benefits of energy codes by being an active voice in code update processes and partners in compliance efforts by state and local governments.
The average homebuyer stands to benefit the most from improvements in building energy codes. With only a small increase in upfront cost, the homebuyer reaps significant energy savings from day one, which pays back the buyer’s initial investment in a matter of months. In a recent BCAP study of 29 states, the average payback period when upgrading to the 2009 IECC was only 10 ½ months, after which buyers continue to save money every month. To explain this opportunity to homebuyers, BCAP has provided tools for homeowners to underscore the code’s potential savings as well as state-level studies that document incremental cost and payback in states and climate zones across the country.
Setting state-level expectations for improving efficiency can provide a common goal for a state’s government and code community to work toward and can ensure support for codes within state government as a valuable part of high-level strategy. We have categorized energy code policy actions into four different levels.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) provided two opportunities for states to receive stimulus funds linked to building energy codes: Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants and State Energy Programs (SEPs).
Find sample support letters, sample press releases, outreach materials, and consumer resources here.
This page depicts state-level policies for public buildings across the United States.
How do states adopt energy codes? Most use either a regulatory process, a legislative process, or a combination of the two. However, some states are home rule, adopting and enforcing their codes at the local level.
Selecting the most current national model energy code (the 2015 IECC or ASHRAE 90.1-2013) ensures that code reflects changes in technology and design that offer increased energy efficiency.