What is implementation?
Implementation is a term used to describe all of the activities needed to prepare local building departments and the building industry to ensure compliance with the energy code. It includes outreach to stakeholder groups; on-site, classroom, and web-based training; establishing and utilizing enforcement infrastructure, tools, and systems; along with other educational and organizational efforts.
Why is it important?
Energy code adoption is a critical first step, but adoption alone will not change building practices. Energy code compliance rates vary even in states that have adopted recent versions of the model codes. To realize the full saving potential of codes, states and cities must implement them properly.
Too often, key stakeholders are unaware of the benefits of building energy efficiency and the energy code requirements in their communities. Advocates should regularly and consistently communicate with consumers, policymakers, the building and design industries, and other involved parties regarding the economic and environmental advantages of strong energy codes and implementation strategies.
Many code officials and building and design professionals are unfamiliar with energy codes and lack the technical expertise to enforce and/or comply with the energy code. State and local governments need to establish and maintain strong professional licenses and certifications that require code officials and members of the construction sector to be up-to-date with energy codes expertise and provide accessible and affordable educational opportunities.
Enforcement and compliance
Inspection departments must establish practical enforcement infrastructures that clearly establish compliance guidelines, yet also maintain flexibility. They must work with the building and design communities to help them understand what is required of them and hold them accountable for their work. Enforcement activities include plan review, permitting, permit tracking, on-site inspections, systems testing, etc.
In most states, energy code implementation has been a low priority. State legislators, state regulators, and local officials must provide inspection departments with sufficient resources and support, as well as help create buy-in among diverse stakeholders and engage the public. States should also take advantage of the unprecedented influx of funding for energy code implementation provided by the Recovery Act to establish self-sustaining codes implementation infrastructure.