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.
IMT Works With Local Governments to Improve Compliance
Compliance initiatives at all levels of government need a significant increase in resources, and local enforcement must improve substantially to boost compliance rates. Using proven strategies, cities can improve code compliance and realize the enormous benefits offered by today’s building energy codes. IMT created ‘”The City Energy Project Assessment Methodology for Energy Code Compliance in Medium to Large Cities,” a free tool designed to help cities identify residential and commercial code compliance issues, as well as areas that each jurisdiction should focus on to improve compliance rates. The District of Columbia recently used this methodology to raise its compliance rate from 74 percent to 99 percent over two years.
IMT Leads Initiatives to Assess the Value of Energy-Saving Codes
IMT is the principal investigator for two U.S. Department of Energy-funded initiatives related to energy code compliance through the Building Energy Code Program.
Residential Energy Code Field Study (Alabama)
In 2014, Alabama was selected to take part in a residential energy code field study to determine what impact residential energy codes have on home energy savings. The baseline field study for this project was conducted in early 2015 and observed several construction features, including insulation R-values, window U-value and solar heat gain coefficient, and duct and envelope tightness. During this period, research teams visited 134 homes during various stages of construction, finding that nearly $1.3 million in potential savings to Alabama homeowners could result from increased code compliance. Subsequently, the project team provided a total of 23 in-person and online trainings throughout Alabama to builders, code officials, trades, and others involved in the residential housing market from August 2016 to November 2017. These trainings will be followed by a second field evaluation scheduled to last through February 2018. More information on the project and the project team is available at ALenergycode.org.
Commercial Energy Code Field Study
Launched in October 2016, the commercial energy code field study seeks to develop and test a methodology for assessing energy savings from building energy codes and associated compliance support. The project focuses on office and retail buildings in Florida, Iowa, and Nebraska. Like its residential counterpart, the commercial study involves plan review and field inspection to verify to what extent energy efficiency measures comply with relevant building code requirements. These findings, in turn, will be used to identify implementation barriers and to quantify the potential for increased energy savings from improved compliance. Furthermore, beyond the research results in themselves, the project will also deliver tools and methods—including training materials for field inspectors, data forms, and approaches for statistical sampling and data management—that utilities and energy efficiency agencies might use for similar studies in other states in the future.
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.