Idaho is a mountainous state known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. It is not surprising, then, that the sustainability movement gained momentum during the noughies, as conservation is a value intrinsic to the state and its citizens. Idahoans are conscious of the environmental impact of their lifestyles and took steps to ensure that the state preserved its natural heritage. When combined with the clear economic benefits of energy efficiency, it is easy to see why Idaho went green.
Although overshadowed by the accomplishments of its more populous neighbors to the west, Idaho quietly made a name for itself as an energy codes leader. By 2010, the state energy code was the 2006 IECC, and the statewide adoption of the 2009 IECC was set for the beginning of 2011. In addition, as part of the 2007 Idaho Energy Plan, the Idaho Legislature set a three-year energy code adoption cycle goal. In 2009, it gave the Division of Building Safety the authority to promulgate the building codes—including energy—on this three-year cycle.
Why We Watched
Model Code Adoption
Idaho and its jurisdictions implemented the 2009 IECC in January 2011. Throughout 2010, state and city officials, energy code advocates, and other interested parties supported the state’s enforcement, building, and design communities in preparing for the latest editions of the model energy codes.
Idaho Energy Code Collaborative
The Idaho Energy Code Collaborative, led by the Association of Idaho Cities (AIC) and backed by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), is a group of state, county, and city representatives, energy code advocates, and other interested stakeholders making a concerted effort to improve energy code compliance and enforcement. They meet to discuss energy code issues, resolve them together, and write and promote recommendations to guide state policy.
The Collaborative met multiple times in late 2009 and early 2010 to shape the state’s roadmap for achieving 90 percent compliance.
Statewide Implementation Strategies
Idaho was serious about achieving 90 percent compliance with the 2009 IECC, as per the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). A number of energy code stakeholders, working through the Collaborative, designed a comprehensive statewide implementation strategy. It consisted of three approaches:
- Database: Supported by Recovery Act funding, energy code advocates developed a pilot database to assist in documentation of energy code compliance through individual jurisdictions. By 2011, they expected to expand the database to include the entire state.The idea was that builders would be able to go onto the database and manage their building projects by jurisdiction. The database would include a checklist of energy code requirements builders must meet for both residential and commercial buildings, based on data from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Code officials and third party inspectors would then conduct spot checks to supplement this system.
- Training and Education: In order to generate buy-in from all individuals and groups involved in adopting, implementing, and enforcing the 2009 IECC, the Collaborative planned to conduct a number of training sessions across the state throughout 2010. In five separate geographic regions, energy code experts would conduct two days of training for local building departments and the building and design industries on the requirements of the 2009 IECC. These trainings would consist of classroom sessions and on-site training, including blower door and duct blaster test demonstrations. In addition, training would include informational sessions for elected officials and community leaders on the energy savings and financial impact of updating the energy code. Along with the AIC, the Collaborative marketed these training sessions through a number of partners, including the Idaho Association of Building Officials, the Associated Building Contractors, contractor suppliers, and the Building Contractor Association.With support from NEEA and others, advocates were preparing a best practices guide for residential builders. The guide was intended provide information not covered in the 2009 IECC, such as proper installation methods, available products and materials, and state-specific information.
- Association of Idaho Cities Conference: As part of its annual conference in mid-June, the AIC planned to devote a full day to the energy code and other I-codes. The roughly 200 attendees participated in an energy code implementation roundtable, workshops that covered the new database, and technical and informational training sessions. These activities should mirror and augment the training sessions held across the state throughout the year.
- BCAP named Ken Baker of the Idaho Energy Code Collaborative its Summer 2010 Energy Code Champion!
- 2010 Idaho Energy and Green Building Conference took place on October 20-21 in Boise
- Idaho trained six Energy Code Ambassadors.
- The Collaborative held training sessions on May 25-26 in Idaho Falls, July 14-15 in Nampa, July 27-28 in Lewiston, July 29-30 in Couer D’Alene, Aug. 3-4 in Pocatello, Aug. 5-6 in Twin Falls.
- The Collaborative also hosted two webcasts on the differences between the 2006 and 2009 IECC on May 18 (for residential) and May 27 (for commercial).
- Representatives from the Collaborative put together a presentation on the value of energy codes for the Association of Idaho Cities Annual Conference
Other places we watched in 2010:
Cosimina has been a member of BCAP for over a decade, actively contributing to the organization’s nationally acclaimed initiatives aimed at assisting states and local authorities in the establishment and enforcement of robust and efficient building energy codes. Her involvement spans across advocacy, technical guidance, outreach programs, and the formation of strategic coalitions.