Despite the cost-effectiveness and multiple energy, health, and safety benefits that building energy codes deliver, efforts to improve energy code compliance—including training, outreach, implementation support, and enforcement—significantly lack the funds and resources that are needed. Statewide reports indicate a widespread lack of compliance: IMT estimates that in many places, compliance is only 50 percent, and even lower in others. The result? Buildings waste far more energy and resources than they should—representing billions of dollars in missed energy savings, as well as a missed opportunity for better quality and more resilient buildings.
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 strained 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 U.S.
Using proven strategies, cities can improve code compliance and realize the enormous benefits offered by today’s building energy codes. Recognizing this, IMT created ‘”The City Energy Project Assessment Methodology for 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.
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.