Love and the IECC: A New “Romance Series” Debuts

IECC series Bill Fay CodeWatcher

CodeWatcher is proud to publish the “9-Part Romance Series on America’s Model Energy Code (the IECC) for Building and Fire Officials” by the Energy Efficient Codes Coalition’s Executive Director Bill Fay. Here’s the intro to the series, which runs through April, and will give you everything you ever needed to know about the IECC. 

Ask some Building and Fire Officials about the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and they’ll tell you it’s the illegitimate child of the family of I-Codes.

The IECC is unique:  It’s the only I-Code cited for steady improvement in federal laws passed by both Republican- and Democrat-led Congresses since 1991.  The statutes were signed into law by both Presidents Bush.  It’s also the only I-Code that generates hard cash for the building owners and tenants that I-Codes are written to protect . . . real money that adds up to tens of thousands of dollars in energy bill savings over the 100-year life of today’s buildings.

It’s easy to understand their resistance. Building and Fire Officials are overworked, often under-staffed and under-funded, and focused on protecting home and commercial building owners from shoddy and unsafe construction. Their mostly local jurisdictions count on them to ensure building safety and quality, but they also want public policies that address low-income and other energy ratepayer issues, local grid stability, energy independence, and climate mitigation. And their jurisdiction’s leaders are increasingly aware of the vital role a dynamic IECC can play as a solution to these pressing municipal and national issues.

Buildings are America’s largest consumer (and waster) of energy, and if they aren’t built properly, they will use and waste energy for five generations. Building energy codes were created in the last half of the 20th Century as a response to crippling U.S. energy crises, which sparked calls from Mayors, Governors, and Congress to improve residential, multifamily, commercial, and government building efficiency.

In the 21st Century, growing climate concerns and data showing that building efficiency is the single-most impactful and cost-effective step jurisdictions can take to reduce carbon emissions has generated a strong consensus among elected officials and policymakers that – starting with the 2021 IECC this November – America’s Model Energy Code must be placed on a glide-path of steady gains to net-zero building construction by 2050 or earlier. Efficiency measures are easiest and most cost-effective to install during construction (renovations are harder/more expensive); return tens of thousands in energy bill savings to owners/occupants; and are often permanent, performing the entire 100-year lifespan of the building.

As Austin Mayor Will Wynn once told the US Conference of Mayors Energy Committee: “I haven’t really worked with my city’s building officials and certainly wasn’t aware they were voting to update America’s Energy Code every three years. It’s important for me to explain to them why a stronger IECC is important to our city’s energy policy.”

Don’t be surprised if your mayor, city manager, or governor reaches out to you about the 2021 IECC that will be developed this year . . . they need your support for the steady, long-lasting improvements to America’s Model Energy Code that will reduce energy bills for building owners and tenants, delay the need for new power plants, and improve America’s energy independence and the environment.

Stay tuned for Part 1 of this 9-Part series:  “The IECC Is a Life Safety Code!”