by Charlotte Volpe and Kamaria Greenfield, 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 New Hampshire as one its Places to Watch for two major reasons: the state’s timely adoption of the most recent model energy code at that time, the 2009 IECC; and their Energy Code Compliance Roadmap, designed as a guide towards 90% compliance with the existing code by 2017 (in order to meet the requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)). Despite its relatively small size and population, New Hampshire was and remains engaged in initiatives to achieve statewide energy goals and become a national leader in energy policy. This is a valiant goal, but according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), there is still more work to be done: New Hampshire was ranked 21st on ACEEE’s 2016 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Out of a possible seven points in the energy codes category, the state received four.
Model Code Adoption
Even prior to finalizing the adoption of the 2009 IECC in December of 2009, the state had been judicious about keeping pace with the model codes as they were developed. In 2007, New Hampshire adopted an energy code based on the 2006 IECC. Unfortunately, adoption progress has stalled since then. During the summer of 2015, the New Hampshire State Building Code Review Board held a public hearing as the state prepared to adopt the 2015 IECC with amendments. But in early 2016, the state’s House of Representatives voted down the pertinent legislation, House Bill 1282, which – if passed – would have adopted a significantly watered down version of the 2015 IECC. As of October 2016, it appears that any attempts at updating statewide building energy codes have been indefinitely shelved.
Progress Towards Compliance Goals
In 2009, then-Governor John Lynch launched the New Hampshire Energy Codes Challenge Project, a campaign to make New Hampshire one of the most energy efficient states in the country. As part of the project, the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (OEP) contracted with an engineering and consulting firm, GDS Associates, to create a compliance roadmap over two and a half years. GDS was a logical choice for this role; the Manchester-based firm had run energy code workshops for the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) since 2003 and conducted an in-depth survey of code officials in 2006.
The New Hampshire Roadmap to Compliance, published in April 2012, laid out a multifaceted plan for the state to achieve its compliance goals, broken down by market actor group and priority level. The baseline level of compliance in the state was established at 45%, meaning the opportunities to reduce energy use and energy costs were huge.
In 2011, using ARRA funding, BCAP worked with the OEP and GDS Associates to conduct research on the barriers and opportunities for energy code compliance and produce the New Hampshire Gap Analysis Report. One of the most notable recommendation of the report was that the state should encourage jurisdictions to adopt more stringent energy codes, noting that only one jurisdiction (Durham) had moved to the 2012 IECC. The report also noted considerable confusion regarding energy code enforcement authority, the need for additional implementation support in local jurisdictions, and the insufficient funding that was available to overcome existing barriers to enforcement. BCAP also collaborated with several other organizations to create a state-specific Strategic Compliance Plan. This plan recommended that the state form an energy code compliance collaborative to facilitate the organization of knowledgeable and influential stakeholders.
Today, New Hampshire is one of about a dozen states nationwide that use this best practice. Over the past few years, the collaborative has focused on important issues such as outreach, training, and piloting DOE’s Home Energy Score tool for some residential construction.
Photo credit: Tracy Lee Carroll/Creative Commons