WASHINGTON — A newly released model building energy code upgrade aims to improve energy use in commercial and residential buildings in the United States by as much as 30 percent.
The “landmark” 30 percent improvement is part of the International Energy Conservation Code — a 25 percent increase for energy efficiency in commercial buildings from the 2006 version of the code.
The Energy Efficiency Codes Coalition, a group led by the Alliance and made up of policy makers, businesses, and public interest groups, advocated for the increase.
“The improvements in the model code will have far-reaching impact as nearly all states operate under a version of the IECC, which is the only model residential energy code referenced in federal statutes,” according to the Alliance.
Kateri Callahan, Alliance president, said significant advances in energy codes for new U.S. construction have many benefits beyond just saving energy, money, and reducing pollution.
“The 2012 code will reduce peak energy demand, thereby reducing strain on the electric grid and increasing its reliability; reduce the size and cost of heating and cooling equipment in residential and commercial buildings; improve indoor comfort; help stabilize local energy prices; and increase national energy security,” she added.
Callahan urged the states to adopt the 2012 code and enforce it strictly in the months and years ahead.
The Alliance estimates that if all states were to adopt the new code next year and achieve full compliance by 2013 — “an admittedly ambitious scenario” — the annual savings by 2030 would amount to at least $40 billion in energy costs to consumers and businesses, more than 3.5 quadrillion Btu of energy annually — about 9 percent of current building energy use — and about 200 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.
The Energy Efficiency Codes Council said all states have committed to 90 percent compliance with the 2012 code by 2017.
Commercial building gains in the 2012 code include improved insulation and windows, continuous air barriers — including sealing all outside surfaces to keep heated and cooled air inside and prevent outside air from leaking in, daylighting controls, and increased use of economizers, which use outdoor air for cooling when possible rather than mechanical air-conditioning.