*v* Building Codes for
Energy Efficiency
This fact sheet highlights the benefits of building energy codes and describes several steps that parties
working under the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency can take to advance cost-effective energy
efficiency through the adoption, implementation, and enforcement of codes.
About Building Energy
Parties working to create a sustainable, aggressive national commitment to
energy efficiency under the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency are
exploring the opportunities for increased energy efficiency through new or
improved building energy codes. Energy codes require new and existing build-
ings undergoing major renovations to meet a set of minimum requirements
for energy efficiency. For parties pursuing energy efficiency as a cost-effective
resource, codes can be a critical piece of a comprehensive approach.
Energy consumption in buildings accounts for one-third of all the energy used
in the United States and two-thirds of the total electricity demand. To address
this demand, building codes have been used for nearly three decades and are
a cost-effective strategy to overcome barriers to energy efficiency in buildings.
In combination with appliance standards, energy codes that are well-designed,
implemented, and enforced can lock in cost-effective energy savings of 30 to
40 percent at the time of building construction compared to standard prac-
tices.1 In addition to lowering energy bills, energy codes can reduce load
growth and the need for new energy generation capacity while limiting air
pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Recognizing these benefits, a major-
ity of states have adopted building energy codes in some form for residential
and commercial construction (DOE, 2006).
Benefits of Building Energy Codes
Building energy codes provide states and municipalities across the country a
range of energy, environmental, and economic benefits. Highlights from
several jurisdictions are summarized below and in Table 1.
Energy benefits of building codes include saving on energy bills, reducing peak
energy demand, and improving system reliability. For example, California's
building standards have helped save businesses and residents more than $15.8
billion in electricity and natural gas costs since 1975, and these savings are
Energy codes typically specify
requirements for "thermal resist-
ance" in the building shell and
windows, minimum air leakage,
and minimum efficiency for heat-
ing and cooling equipment.
These measures can help elimi-
nate inefficient construction
practices and technologies with
only modest increases in up-front
project costs.
New construction and major
renovation represent cost-effec-
tive times to incorporate
energy-efficiency measures into
buildings because these improve-
ments save energy throughout
the life of those buildings and
can be expensive to adopt later.
Building energy codes are typi-
cally developed at the national
level, adopted at the state level,
and implemented and enforced
by local governments.
National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency