With small country farmhouses and snow-covered woods, New Hampshire evoked the idyllic New England imagery of Robert Frost, a longtime resident. Yet behind this scenic backdrop lay a modern state that was working hard to be a model for energy efficiency and renewables. New Hampshire’s per capita energy consumption was already the fifth lowest in the country, according to the Energy Information Administration, behind tiny Rhode Island and efficiency heavyweights New York, California, and Massachusetts. A number of geographic and economic factors assisted it in achieving this designation, such as its size, mild summer climate, and small industrial base, but the state wanted to add high energy code compliance rates to that list.
The state was keeping up-to-date with the model energy codes. In 2007, the New Hampshire Building Code Review Board (the Board) adopted a state code based on the 2006 IECC. The Board finalized the adoption of the 2009 IECC in December 2009, which took effect on April 1, 2010. The state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) was responsible for administering the code and handled code applications directly in towns without code officials.
However, New Hampshire understood that energy code adoption was just the first step. Led by the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (OEP), the PUC, and the Board, the state worked to improve energy code implementation. Since 2003, GDS Associates, Inc., an engineering and consulting firm with an office in Manchester, New Hampshire, had run energy code workshops for the PUC. In 2006, GDS surveyed code officials to assess the status of compliance statewide and found wide discrepancies across the state. Of the towns surveyed, 63 percent rated themselves as being actively involved in the energy code review process, with the vast majority of large towns (5,000+ citizens) in this group. Still, the other 37 percent graded themselves as having little or no involvement, and three quarters of these towns did not have at least one full- or part-time code official, as is common in rural communities.
Why We Watched
Model Code Adoption
In May 2009, the New Hampshire Building Code Review Board adopted the 2009 IECC. The Board finalized the adoption process in December by reviewing proposed amendments, rejecting most of them, but approving an exemption for log homes. The 2009 IECC took effect on April 1, 2010.
90 Percent Compliance Roadmap
New Hampshire was determined to meet the 90 percent compliance by 2017 requirement in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). Using funds from the Recovery Act, the OEP contracted with GDS on a two-and-a-half-year project to create a comprehensive 90 percent compliance roadmap, expanding upon its previous work from the past few years.
GDS began with another survey of code officials to establish a baseline of energy code compliance. From this information, GDS planned to put together a flexible training schedule to cover the requirements of the 2009 IECC for building professionals and code officials, targeting the communities that require the most assistance, particularly those that do not have a full-time code inspector. The goal was to conduct 24 trainings across the state over a two-and-a-half period.
GDS was also carrying out a number of activities to market its upcoming work and generate buy-in from key stakeholders, such as the New Hampshire Building Officials Association (NHBOA). It was creating a diverse Stakeholder Panel comprised of state and utility representatives, code officials, realtors, energy code advocates, and other interested parties to offer relevant and realistic input and feedback on the true barriers to 90 percent compliance by 2017. GDS was also developing a public awareness campaign for homeowners, residential and commercial property owners, and real estate appraisers to promote the benefits of energy efficient buildings. Furthermore, it revamped the NH Energy Code Challenge website to be an online resource for upcoming energy code workshops and other pertinent information.
As the project progressed, GDS planned to compile realistic policy recommendations for creating an effective compliance review process. The final step was to submit this report to OEP and other state agencies, as well as the Department of Energy. New Hampshire hoped that its roadmap would inform the national dialogue on energy code implementation strategies and serve as a guide for other states aiming to reach 90 percent compliance by 2017.
|July 1, 2010||The governor signs into law a bill introduced in January (SB 409) that will create a high performance standard for new construction and renovations of certain state buildings. The law will take effect on July 1, 2011.|
|May 2010||GDS holds a residential training on May 4 in Keene, NH, and another on June 8 at the White Mountains Community College in Berlin, NH. GDS held a commercial training on May 20 in Concord, NH, and another on June 17 in Bretton Woods, NH.|
|April 20, 2010||GDS holds its first commercial energy code training for architects, engineers, code officials, and other building and inspection professionals in Keene, NH. The training consisted of a full day of presentations covering compliance with the model energy codes, as well as information on a number of above codes and rating systems, such as the IgCC, LEED, and NBI’s Core Performance.|
|April 1, 2010||The 2009 IECC becomes effective statewide.|
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.