Establishing a foundation for energy efficiency
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).
During the summer of 2009, DOE approved State Energy Program (SEP) plans for 50 states and territories submitted per the Recovery Act. Among the activities eligible for the $3.1 billion appropriated for SEP funding (including energy audits, building retrofits, education and training efforts, alternative fuel and hybrid vehicle programs), states and territories had the opportunity during the spring of 2009 to apply for funding to implement building energy codes of equal or greater stringency to the model codes at that time: the 2009 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2007.
In October 2009, the International Code Council (ICC) and American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) jointly published these national model building energy codes in one book. The publication came as a direct result of requirements for states to receive funding for building energy code implementation under the Recovery Act, which directed states to adopt the 2009 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2007 and achieve compliance within 90 percent of new residential and commercial building space by 2017.
During the summer of 2010, DOE released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for states and territories for activities related to the adoption and implementation of the most current building energy codes. The primary purpose was to advance state building energy codes that lagged behind the efficiency levels required by today’s model codes. On December 17, 2010, DOE announced that it had selected 24 states (see map) to receive a cumulative $7 million to support the adoption of updated, energy efficient building codes.
In response to a number of requests from states and other interested parties, the Department of Energy conducted a comparative review of the provisions of the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code and the 2009 International Residential Code.
Read the report: Successes of the Recovery Act (January 2012)
The US General Services Administration (GSA) also used $5.5 billion in Recovery Act funding to convert federal buildings to high-performance green buildings and to build new, energy efficient facilities.
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants
$3.2 billion to assist local governments in implementing energy efficiency and conservation programs, of which:
- $2.8 billion is awarded based on existing formula
- $400 million is awarded on a competitive basis
Eligible Code-Related Activities:
- Developing/implementing an energy efficiency and conservation strategy
- Retaining technical consultant services to assist in the development of such a strategy
- Conducting residential and commercial building energy audits
- Establishing financial incentive programs for energy efficiency improvements (e.g., loan programs, rebate programs, waive permit fees)
- Developing and implementing building codes and inspection services to promote building energy efficiency
Who is Eligible for Direct Block Grants?
- Every state (including territories)
- Indian tribes
- Every city with a population of 35,000 or more
- Every county with a population of 200,000 or more
Who is Eligible for Competitive Grants?
- All cities/counties not eligible for direct grants are potentially eligible
Priority will be given to:
- Units of local governments located in states with populations of less than 2,000,000 or
- Plans that result in significant energy efficiency improvements or reduction in fossil fuel use
State Energy Program for Codes
$3.1 billion is provided for state energy efficiency programs.
Eligible Code-Related Activities:
- States compete for funding to implement adoption and implementation activities relating to building codes
Required Code-Related Activity:
As a condition of receipt of SEP grants, the Secretary of
Energy must receive notification from the Governor that certain assurances have been obtained regarding certain regulatory policies, building code requirements and the prioritization of existing state programs.
The following is required for buildings:
- Intent to adopt residential and commercial codes that meet or exceed the 2009 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2007
- Plans for achieving compliance rates with these codes of 90% in new and renovated residential and commercial buildings within 8 years.
Who is Eligible for a SEP grant?
- All states (including territories)
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.
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.
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.