by Charlotte Volpe, BCAP
In 2010, BCAP created a list of Places to Watch that were making strides in enacting energy efficient building codes. Now, we are going back to these nine jurisdictions to track their progress and see what other innovations they’ve added six years later. We will be looking for other places to watch in the future as cities lead the way with sustainability plans and energy saving goals.
In 2010, BCAP identified the State of Kansas as a place to watch in terms of energy codes, especially their model energy code adoption, Efficiency Kansas revolving loan program, and community grant programs. Kansas is a home rule state, so building codes are adopted and enforced at the local level. In its 2016 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, ACEEE estimates that about 60% of residential construction in the state has to comply with, at minimum, the 2009 IECC.
Kansas’ Energy Efficiency Building Codes Working Group, which was established to ensure that the state met 90% compliance with 2009 IECC by 2017, is no longer active, and held their final meeting in April 2011. The current stakeholder group, the Kansas Codes Collaborative, reports that 19 jurisdictions have adopted the 2009 IECC or more recent codes. Based on 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data, approximately 16% of Kansans live in cities that have adopted the 2012 IECC or later as their building energy code. Of the five most populous cities in Kansas, Wichita is the only one without an energy code. Wyandotte County, which includes Kansas City, references the 2009 IECC; Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, references the 2012 IECC; Olathe and Topeka have adopted amended versions of the 2012 IECC and 2009 IECC, respectively.
Efficiency Kansas was a revolving loan program created by the State Energy Office that provided low-interest loans to homeowners and business owners for the purpose of retrofitting older homes and commercial buildings with cost-effective energy efficiency improvements. In 2013, an update on the Efficiency Kansas Loan Program reported than the program was projected to save almost two million kilowatt hours every year. Another project that may have supported energy codes at the local level, the Energy Manager Grants program, was geared towards helping coalitions of local governments tackle energy issues, including providing an annual stipend to hire energy managers for local governments. Since we first looked at Kansas’ efficiency efforts, the loan and grant programs are no longer in effect.
Kansas does require sellers of new homes to prominently display an Energy Efficiency Disclosure form, which includes details on the envelope and mechanical systems, R-values for insulation in walls, attics, and foundations, and window U-values. However, this disclosure references requirements of the 2006 IECC, which is over 30% less efficient than the latest model code.
Kansas had taken several steps forward in energy efficiency when we first investigated their programming in 2010. Since then, it has discontinued programs that promoted energy efficient buildings, and seems to have instead focused its efforts on the requirement of the energy efficiency disclosure form. Mandating and displaying this form is an important step in creating demand for energy efficient homes. This program could have a greater impact if subsequent efforts to educate home-buyers and real estate professionals were launched to teach those audiences about its meaning, and the benefits of energy efficiency and modern energy codes. While it will likely be difficult to adopt state-wide building energy codes due to Kansas’ home rule, the state is poised to do more to promote code adoption, compliance, and enforcement in the state.
Photo credit: Mike Linksvayer/Creative Commons