Wins and Shortfalls for Energy Codes

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The good news? a new broad energy bill is in the works. The bad news? The ICC Committee Action Hearings.

On April 20, the Senate passed a bipartisan S. 2012, which sponsors hope will become the first broad energy bill in almost a decade. In addition to electric grid modernization, the Energy Policy Modernization Act supports energy efficiency in buildings. It directs the Secretary of Energy to “encourage and support the adoption of building energy codes…that meet or exceed the model building energy codes, or achieve equivalent or greater savings, and support full compliance with the state and local codes.”’

According to the Alliance to Save Energy, this bill will result in $60 billion in net savings for consumers by 2030.

Of particular note, the bill includes the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act as an amendment, which passed with a vote of 66 to 31. IMT has been a long-time proponent of the SAVE Act, which seeks to lower the energy use of homes by providing a voluntary means of financing energy efficiency and improving the accuracy of mortgage underwriting by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) when determining the value and affordability of energy-efficient homes.

But other recent events have made it clear that the efficiency levels of future energy codes are in question.

At the ICC Committee Action Hearings in Louisville this month, there were many recommendations for residential efficiency rollbacks. This means that the 2018 IECC updates could gut the progress made over the past few years. The support for codes contained in the language of S.2012 will have a much smaller impact if the most recent model codes don’t minimize energy use and maximize potential savings. See our in-depth article by Bill Fay for details.

The report from the recent hearings will be released at the beginning of June, and online public comments will be accepted through July 22. The final public comment hearings (before ICC leaderships votes on the energy code) will be held October 19–25 in Kansas City, MO.