New Report Provides Both Roadmap and Rationale for Utility Participation in Building Codes Implementation

December 13, 2012

Washington, D.C.—Building energy codes offer an attractive energy savings opportunity for utility efficiency programs, particularly now that there are new approaches to quantify the savings from code compliance efforts, according to Building Energy Code Advancement through Utility Support and Engagement, a new report issued today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The report recommends ways to overcome the common barriers to utility involvement in energy code-related efforts and details pilot program concepts that can help utilities in playing a meaningful role in promoting building energy codes and in receiving credit for their efforts.

The latest national model building energy codes are about 30% more efficient than their predecessors of even six years ago, and there is a large opportunity for savings from new construction efficiency upgrades. These savings can go a long way in helping the utilities meet their energy efficiency resource standards (EERS) targets and in helping states comply with the requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Under ARRA funding, recipient states committed to adopting national model codes along with implementing a plan to reach at least 90% compliance by 2017.

Typically utilities have faced barriers to implementation of code-based programs as they have not been historically viewed as part of their core activities. Additionally, uniform protocols for the measurement of code compliance and calculation of savings from code compliance have not been fully developed. This report recommends a framework based on adapting the new Progress Indicator methodology used by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for calculating savings from improved code compliance.

Harry Misuriello, the report’s lead author and ACEEE Visiting Fellow, said, “We have seen tremendous potential in the ability of building energy codes to deliver energy savings. Utilities are well poised to play a crucial role in promoting energy codes for several reasons—they have the technical expertise related to building energy saving measures and they have existing networks with relevant stakeholders. Driving the codes agenda means that utilities can not only save energy, which is beneficial for the country and for the environment, but can also better estimate their demand loads and, in the process, get attractive return on their investment.”

The report also provides an overview of the states that are leading in energy code implementation efforts with utility support. “We have observed that states with stringent EERS targets and active utility involvement in new construction programs also tend to have an advanced level of utility engagement in driving building energy codes,” said Sameer Kwatra, senior analyst at ACEEE and co-author. “This report will be particularly useful for states that are still exploring the roles that utilities can play in energy code implementation as it provides both a rationale and a roadmap.”

To read the report visit: /research-report/a126.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.