President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda Accelerates Adoption of Modern Building Codes, Improves Resilience, and Helps Tackle the Climate Crisis
As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $90 million in competitive awards to help states, cities, tribes, and partnering organizations implement updated energy codes for buildings. Funded by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, these awards will support 27 projects across 26 states and the District of Columbia to ensure buildings meet the latest standards for energy efficiency — reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering energy bills for American families and businesses. Americans $138 billion on their utility bills and reduce 900 million metric tons of CO2 emissions by 2040. Modernizing energy codes is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses and make communities more resilient to extreme weather events, which are key to addressing the climate crisis and achieving the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious clean energy goals.
“Cutting emissions from buildings across America and ensuring they’re more energy efficient are critical components of President Biden’s plan to tackle the climate crisis and create cleaner and healthier communities,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “With unprecedented support from the President’s Investing in America agenda, the Department is providing new funding to help cities and states modernize their building codes — lowering energy costs for American families and businesses while improving public health.”
Secretary Granholm will highlight the announcement later today in Louisiana at the Home Builders Institute training facility alongside the Louisiana Home Builders Association, who led Louisiana’s charge to adopt the latest energy and building codes through a bipartisan effort to cut energy costs and protect communities against the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather.
Homes built to today’s energy codes are 40% more efficient than homes built 15 years ago, making energy costs a smaller fraction of household expenses, insulating hard-working families and underserved communities from volatile fossil fuel prices. Energy codes substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also lowering builder risk. President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is bringing the benefits of energy codes to communities that need them most including environmental justice communities, rural communities, and underserved communities.
Today, America’s 130 million commercial and residential buildings are responsible for 35% of the nation’s total carbon emissions. Energy codes establish minimum standards for energy efficiency in new and renovated buildings and help ensure they are healthier, safer, and more resilient. Through 2040, building energy codes are estimated to save Americans $138 billion on their utility bills and reduce 900 million metric tons of CO2 emissions — an amount roughly equivalent to the combined annual emissions of 108 million homes.
To realize these immense cost-saving and public health benefits, it is critical that states and local governments update their building codes based on the latest technologies and construction practices and support their successful application. However, two out of every three communities in the U.S. have not adopted the latest building codes in part due to a lack of available resources to support their implementation. Today’s awards seek to address this challenge, and help states and local governments across the country adopt and implement modern construction standards. This announcement builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Initiative to Advance Building Codes, which supports energy and building codes and standards that save lives, reduce property damage, cut utility bills, and create good-paying jobs while advancing environmental and energy justice priorities.
Resilient & Efficient Codes Implementation
The 27 awarded projects from across the country were selected following a robust stakeholder engagement process and target partnerships across the range of energy code stakeholders who play an important role supporting the successful implementation of building codes. These awards encompass a number of key activities supporting energy code updates and implementation, including workforce development, community engagement, research and data collection, energy, equity and environmental justice, and increased support for compliance and enforcement.
A key focal point will be providing industry practitioners with access to education and training opportunities on the latest building codes. Awardees will help develop, attract, and train new workers and retain existing workers to bolster a skilled and diverse workforce that is well-versed in modern building standards, can keep pace with the latest technologies and construction practices, and will help build an inclusive clean energy future. Such programs are integral to the effective implementation of energy codes at the state and local levels, and represent President Biden’s commitment to strengthening our workforce, empowering American workers, and providing new opportunities for good-paying, family-sustaining jobs across the country.
Selected projects include:
- American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (Washington, D.C.) will establish a National Energy Codes Collaborative, which is a nationwide capacity-building network that empower states and jurisdictions to effectively and sustainably implement updated cost-effective building energy codes through technical assistance, community engagement, focused local strategy development, and peer-to-peer collaboration and convenings. (Award amount: $9.6 million)
- ClearlyEnergy, Inc. (Severna Park, MD) will create regional building performance standard cohorts to implement building energy efficiency programs at a regional level in small, rural, and Justice40 communities, which offer opportunities to standardize policy models among adjacent jurisdictions and promote their consistency. (Award amount: $2.9 million)
- Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (Boston, MA) will use develop a comprehensive plan to support the adoption, implementation, and compliance of updated Stretch building energy code and Specialized code throughout the state. (Award amount: $3.9 million)
- Metropolitan Energy Center (Kansas City, MO) will leverage its extensive multi-state network of 30 regional, state, and local community partners not typically engaged in energy code efforts to conduct outreach and workforce development in rural and disadvantaged communities. (Award amount: $6.8 million)
- Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (Harrisburg, PA) will develop energy code technical trainings and building science training programs at career and technical high schools as well as community colleges across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to provide students with opportunities to be trained in building science topics and help address the building code and trades employment gaps. (Award amount: $3.0 million)
- Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (Atlanta, GA) will develop and deliver accessible and replicable energy code resources, technical assistance, training, and workforce development strategies to stakeholders in the State of Louisiana, to increase the state industry’s knowledge and expertise in response to their recent energy code update. (Award amount: $1.6 million)
Additional award highlights include projects in Alaska where local communities and tribes will work together in energy code implementation; workforce development in Kansas and Missouri that include union partners to brings energy codes to rural communities; partnerships with unions and community groups in Massachusetts to bring energy codes to environmental justice communities; workforce development in Ohio and southeastern states with a focus on training on Building Performance Standards for retrofits; and municipal, contractor and union partnerships in Wisconsin to bring energy codes to more municipalities. For a full list of projects, please click here.
Selection for award negotiations is not a commitment by DOE to issue an award or provide funding. Before funding is issued, DOE and the applicants will undergo a negotiation process, and DOE may cancel negotiations and rescind the selection for any reason during that time.
DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is accelerating the research, development, demonstration, and deployment of technologies and solutions to support President Biden’s ambitious plan to transition America to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide by 2050. EERE is helping to ensure the clean energy economy benefits all Americans, creating good paying jobs for the American people—especially workers and communities impacted by the energy transition and those historically underserved by the energy system and overburdened by pollution.
Article from Energy.gov.
Featured image courtesy of Sunrun.
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