Building codes establish the minimum standards of acceptable building practice, so energy codes define the least efficient buildings that can be constructed. Concerns about energy ranging from cost to carbon emissions have led states and municipalities to identify energy codes as an cost-effective policy to use in achieving various goals. Codes can become a viable piece of a broad state plan when milestones for improved efficiency are established.
States and local jurisdictions that are interested in adopting new (or updating existing) code legislation can benefit by reviewing actions others have taken. Samples of existing laws from states and cities around the country can be found on the Policy Action for Energy Code Reform Page.
While the pieces of legislation featured in this section are among the best practices in the country, they may need to be adjusted for your particular state or jurisdiction. Many can be strengthened or tailored to fit the needs of your area. If your jurisdiction writes a bill that could be used as a model by others, please let us know!
Connecting with Stakeholders
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. No matter who is making the decisions on energy codes, making your voice heard is invaluable to the adoption process.
Energy Code Reform
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.
Energy Codes and ARRA
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).
Making the Case for Building Energy Codes
Find sample support letters, sample press releases, outreach materials, and consumer resources here.
Public Buildings Policy
This page depicts state-level policies for public buildings across the United States.
Understanding the Legislative Process
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.
Where to Begin: Types of Energy Codes
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.