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Published on September 24th, 2018 | by John Farrell

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Why Energy Codes Matter, & What Cities Can Do

September 24th, 2018 by  


Originally published at ilsr.org.

How efficient are buildings in your community?

That depends a lot on the building code, which states (and sometimes cities) can use to set minimum standards for energy efficiency.  The US DOE has a nice chart of which state has adopted which code, but the following chart is useful in understanding what that means from the standpoint of relative energy efficiency and energy savings.  A third of states could save new homeowners anywhere from $150 to $1100 per year in energy costs by upgrading or implementing the most recent International Energy Conservation Code.  In many cases, cities have the authority to set more ambitious codes than the state, a great way to use local authority to save residents and businesses money!

relative energy efficiency of building codes.001

Unfortunately, builders often push back on energy codes, which are prescriptive (requiring certain measures such as a certain thickness of wall insulation). But a historic compromise in 2013 suggests that performance-based standards — if verified — could offer a way to let everyone win.

Can your city push the code further? Use ILSR’s interactive Community Power Map to see which states allow cities to set their own building energy codes and check out this table from our 2013 report City Power Play showing which cities have made the move to improve their energy code.

For timely updates, follow John Farrell or Marie Donahue on Twitter, our energy work on Facebook, or sign up to get the Energy Democracy weeklyupdate. 
 

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About the Author

directs the Democratic Energy program at ILSR and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. His seminal paper, Democratizing the Electricity System, describes how to blast the roadblocks to distributed renewable energy generation, and how such small-scale renewable energy projects are the key to the biggest strides in renewable energy development.   Farrell also authored the landmark report Energy Self-Reliant States, which serves as the definitive energy atlas for the United States, detailing the state-by-state renewable electricity generation potential. Farrell regularly provides discussion and analysis of distributed renewable energy policy on his blog, Energy Self-Reliant States (energyselfreliantstates.org), and articles are regularly syndicated on Grist and Renewable Energy World.   John Farrell can also be found on Twitter @johnffarrell, or at jfarrell@ilsr.org.



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