As recently announced, we are excited to welcome the Energy Efficient Codes Coalition (EECC) to its new home at IMT, following a successful twelve-year run at the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE). IMT has a long history of involvement in energy codes, working with local jurisdictions and with federal programs to facilitate adoption and to understand and bolster compliance. As a program under IMT, EECC’s principles and values will remain the same, with the goal of propelling the energy code to the next level, with an eye towards incorporating electrification, grid interactivity, and building performance standards on top of efficiency requirements.
In the first part of this two-part series, we will discuss EECC’s near-term goals in its new home at IMT, and its role in the current socio-economic environment.
EECC History and Accomplishments
The Energy Efficient Codes Coalition was formed as a project under the Alliance to Save Energy in 2007 to bring together governmental officials, efficiency advocates, and industry leaders in order to increase the efficiency gains in the International Energy Conservation Code, or IECC. Due in large part to EECC’s efforts, the 2018 IECC (the current version) is approximately 50% more efficient than the 1975 version, with over 30% savings coming from the first two codes cycles after EECC’s formation (2009 and 2012). The 2021 IECC, voted on in late 2019, is estimated to save an additional 10% on the commercial side and between 8 and 14% on the residential side relative to the 2018 version.
Impact of the Code
The current economic uncertainty associated with Covid-19 and the accompanying high unemployment levels, makes the energy code more important than ever. The US Department of Energy’s most recent Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), published in 2015, indicates that nearly a third of households in the US had difficulties paying their energy bills at some point within the previous year, and over 20% had to choose between basic necessities and paying their bills. Recently, a survey conducted by YouGov  highlighted the impact of the pandemic on low-income households, with 13% of those surveyed unable to pay an energy bill in the last month, 9% receiving a shutoff notice, and an additional 4% having had their service disconnected. While much of the affordability debate centers around housing costs, utility expenses also play a significant role. This energy burden disproportionally affects people of color.
A Democratic Process
One of the strengths of the International Code Council’s (ICC) code development process is that it is largely democratic; anyone may propose changes to the code and all ICC Governmental Members and their Voting Representatives may vote on those changes. Online voting, introduced as part of the 2018 code development process, allows a larger and more diverse group of members to participate in the process, including those representing city agencies that focus on sustainability and affordability. In the most recent development cycle (for the 2021 code), EECC reached a record number of ICC Governmental Members and persuaded them to take part in the voting process. Many of them were unaware of their ability to participate. We are excited and motivated by the number of people and jurisdictions who share our vision of achieving net-zero by 2050, and will continue to work with and for them to continue towards this goal.
Currently, many of the important efficiency measures passed are under appeal, citing unsubstantiated voting irregularities and issues with the process; however, the results of the ICC Board of Directors’ independent Validation Committee “determined that there was a valid voting process with no irregularities or concerns material to the outcome.” The appeals related to the voting and code development process are without merit, unfairly calling into question the qualifications of the voting members and the rigor of an established process. We trust in the previous findings of the Validation Committee—and the knowledge and integrity of the voters—and hope for a swift dismissal of these appeals. The current version of the code represents the priorities and concerns of the voters, and any attempt to override their choices undermines the integrity of the code development process.
EECC has been working with our partner organizations to contact Governmental Members, encouraging them to reach out and show their support for the 2021 IECC and for voting process as they stand. If you would like to submit your own letter, they may addressed to:
- 2019 Group B Appeals Board, c/o Mike Pfeiffer, Senior Vice President of Technical Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Greg Wheeler, CBO President, International Code Council, at email@example.com
- Dominic Sims, CEO, International Code Council, at Dsims@iccsafe.org
For more information, or a letter template, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to submit letters regarding voting issues is August 26.
One of EECC’s biggest near-term initiatives will be supporting adoption of the 2021 IECC. With the numerous connections made during this recent cycle, EECC is hoping to work with the Governmental Members so that the code that they voted for can become the actual code in use in their jurisdictions. The adoption process can be slow, and the design and construction cycle can last years as well, so it is important that we are able to implement these changes as soon as possible in order to maximize impact.
EECC’s recent success demonstrates that if governmental officials are given the information and opportunity to participate in the code development process, they will do so enthusiastically. More voters and higher levels of engagement results in a stronger code that is representative of a larger body of building officials. We hope to continue this trend of member involvement going forward, not just through code adoption, but through subsequent code cycles, as the issues we face with energy continue to become more urgent and more complex.
 Konisky, David and Sanya Carley. Survey of Household Energy Insecurity in Time of COVID. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, 2020.