Calculator Finds Emissions Reduction Impacts of Building Codes

The Alliance to Save Energy and the Energy Efficient Codes Coalition recently announced the release of  a landmark calculator that state air quality offices can utilize to estimate the carbon emission savings from state adoption and enforcement of the most recent building energy codes.

The calculator, developed by the prestigious energy analytics firm ICF International, can be found at:

ICF used its expertise in both building energy codes and clean air policy and its ability to interpret the language of both in developing the calculator.  The result is an easy-to-use tool that opens the door to over eight years of data and modeling.

“Talk about your ‘easy button’, said Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan, “our calculator makes it simple for state air quality agencies to determine the carbon emission reductions that will be achieved by the adoption and enforcement of the most recent model energy codes, which boost the efficiency of new homes and commercial buildings to historic levels.”

The calculator can arm state air quality agencies with the data they need to support the inclusion of adopting and enforcing stronger building energy codes in their State Compliance Plans under EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” (CPP) that was announced last June.

The CPP sets state-specific targets to reduce overall carbon emissions from existing power plants by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 (with interim goals beginning in 2020).  While the Agency’s authority to promulgate the rule under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act has been challenged by over a dozen states, most already are preparing compliance plans.

“Because energy savings from stronger building energy codes put thousands in the wallets of home and commercial building owners, and improve building quality, comfort, and resale value, state officials should be adopting them simply to benefit their residents,” said William Fay, EECC’s Executive Director.  “But because buildings use 71% of America’s electricity, 54% of our natural gas, and 42% of all energy, improving their efficiency has profound potential benefits to national energy policy as well.  In fact, a Financial Times interview with Duke CEO Lynn Good reported that recent gains in building and appliance efficiency “appear to have broken the traditional connection between electricity demand and economic growth.”

Ms. Good’s observation was predicted by a 2011 white paper by the Institute for Electric Efficiency (IEE), which found that continued savings of the magnitude of recent efficiency gains in building energy codes and appliance standards “will completely offset the anticipated growth in demand in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors combined, eliminating the need for additional power plants to serve these sectors through 2025.”