Despite the importance and cost-effectiveness of building energy codes, throughout most of the U.S., efforts to improve energy-code compliance—including training, outreach, implementation support, and enforcement--have long been severely underfunded. Statewide reports indicate a significant and widespread lack of compliance: IMT estimates that in many places, it is as low as 50 percent. The result is that many new and renovated buildings consume far more energy than they should—representing billions of dollars in missed savings.
A task force led by IMT estimated that on average each dollar spent on code compliance and enforcement efforts returns $6 in energy savings, an impressive 600 percent return on investment.
Compliance initiatives at all levels of government need a significant increase in resources, and local enforcement must improve substantially to boost compliance rates. However, this is an era of straitened public budgets. With that in mind, IMT is researching low-cost strategies for improving compliance, such as streamlining plan-review processes and requiring tests by third-party experts. We advocate for these strategies through extensive outreach to building departments around the country.
Using proven strategies cities can improve code compliance and realize the savings offered by today’s energy codes. Recognizing this, IMT created ‘”The City Energy Project Assessment Methodologyfor Energy Code Compliance in Medium to Large Cities.” This free tool is designed to help cities identify residential and commercial code compliance issues, as well as areas that each jurisdiction should focus on to improve their compliance rates. The District of Columbia recently used this methodology to raise its compliance rate from 74 percent to 99 percent over two years.
The Standard Bearers Award
The Standard Bearers Award distinguishes jurisdictions that are using cost-effective code compliance strategies that have achieved energy code compliance and energy reduction. All local and/or state government enforcement programs are eligible, including but not limited to: energy code compliance training programs; programs that depend on third-party enforcement companies; and programs supported by utilities.
Code Compliance Savings Potential
IMT staff has created an interactive U.S. map intended to help educate policymakers about the enormous value in improving compliance with existing building energy codes.Users can click the map for an estimate of each state’s savings potential and studies on baseline compliance rates. Visit this page to download our research and to see the methodology behind the figures.
Case studies on code compliance strategies
IMT staff completed several case studies in a series on promising, cost-effective code compliance strategies. The strategies include: performance testing; third-party plan review; design professional accountability; and streamlining of regulatory processes. Please visit our Resources library to see them all.