Unlikely New Coalition Shines Spotlight on National Goal of Dramatically Upping Energy Efficiency of ALL New U.S. Homes, Commercial Buildings
Utility CEO, State Energy & Industry Assn Heads, Homebuilder, Efficiency Advocates Join in Urgent Call for Strong Building Energy Codes in All States
Washington, D.C., June 30, 2009 – The Building Energy Efficient Codes Network (BEECN), a diverse and even unlikely new coalition of utilities, the building and manufacturing industries, regional and national energy efficiency organizations, labor, academia, think tanks, and more today launched an integrated national campaign advocating strengthened codes to greatly reduce energy from America’s largest user – its homes and commercial buildings. Substantial research documents the role strengthened building codes play in bring down energy costs for consumers, businesses, governments and other institutions, BEECN asserted.
BEECN’s major goals are to:
- Pass national legislation setting ambitious energy building code efficiency improvements of 30 percent for all new buildings starting in 2010 and 50 percent by the middle of the next decade, with the ultimate goal of net-zero-energy buildings by 2030 (provisions included in the House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act and the Senate Energy Committee’s American Clean Energy Leadership Act);
- Allow code bodies, states, and localities the first opportunity to propose and adopt codes that meet or exceed those minimums;
- Provide states and localities with the resources they need to adopt, implement, administer, and enforce stronger energy codes for new homes and commercial buildings;
- Implement a federal energy code as a “backstop” if states do not meet code targets on their own.
“Buildings are America’s largest users – and wasters – of energy,” noted Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, a BEECN founding member organization. “With buildings gobbling up 40 percent of the total energy and more than 70 percent of the electricity consumed in the U.S. and producing 40 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, there is an urgent need to address this unsustainable situation. The good news is that robust building energy codes, applied in all states, provide our most affordable, accessible tool for enhancing national energy security, strengthening our economy, and tackling climate change. In other words, strong codes are a ‘win-win-win’ for many of our nation’s most critical concerns.”
BEECN Executive Director Bill Fay observed, “Until we adopt robust building codes across the nation, each new energy inefficient building will be a lost opportunity that will erode our economic and environmental well-being for generations. Affordable solutions are readily at hand and are currently in use by countless American builders, coast-to-coast, who are constructing energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings.”
BEECN notes the multiple benefits of strong building codes for all new buildings:
- All buyers of new homes benefit from enhanced comfort, higher property values, and savings on monthly utility bills that more than offset any small additions to mortgage payments.
- Low-income homeowners benefit from greater stability in utility bills, increasing the likelihood that they can avoid foreclosure due to unpredictable utility price spikes – the second leading cause of foreclosures.
- Builders benefit by offering homes that buyers want. On average, green builders are weathering the current housing slump better than other builders.
- States and local communities benefit from improved air quality and reduced stress on their electric grids and natural gas supplies.
- Manufacturers and businesses benefit from the downward pressure on energy demand and prices that comes from reducing wasted energy in buildings. In addition, as buildings contribute to energy efficiency and emission reductions (they currently are America’s largest source of manmade greenhouse gases), environmental compliance costs for will be lessened in other economic sectors.
- Workers benefit as spending on home construction shifts from materials to labor. An analysis by the Institute for Market Transformation found that boosting residential codes by 30 percent would create thousands of new construction and other jobs.
- The environment benefits from reduced greenhouse gas emissions, avoided electricity generation, and lower fossil fuel consumption.
- The nation benefits from enhanced energy independence.
Joining Callahan at the BEECN launch event were representatives of a number of network members: Jim Rogers, chairman, president, and CEO of Duke Energy and co-chair of the Alliance Board of Directors; Faren Dancer, owner of home-building firm Sundancer Creations and president of the Santa Fe Builders Association; Marty Durbin, vice president of federal affairs, American Chemistry Council (ACC); David Terry, executive director of the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO); and Wesley Warren, director of programs, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
“I believe that the most successful economies in the future will be the most energy efficient,” said Rogers. “Achieving a set of nationwide energy efficiency building codes is one of the greatest opportunities we have and one of the easiest things we can do now to benefit consumers and strengthen our economy. Consistent building codes will also enhance our energy security and help us effectively address climate change.”
“The residential builders in New Mexico have proved that energy efficiency can be achieved in all segments of the market, from affordable housing at 45 percent better than a current national code-built home, to zero energy homes at modest price points, and even to higher-end customs that are true energy producers,” said Dancer. “The city of Santa Fe has mandated a 30 percent increase in energy efficiency for all new residential construction and will continue to increase the parameters in the coming years to meet the goal of zero carbon emissions by the year 2030.”
“Successful green buildings leave a lighter footprint on the environment through conservation of resources, while at the same time balancing energy-efficient, cost-effective, low-maintenance products for construction,” noted ACC’s Durbin. “American chemistry is a leading innovator in the products that contribute to energy efficient buildings. A new study coming out next week will show that for every unit of greenhouse gases emitted directly and indirectly by the chemical industry, we enable more than two units of emission savings through the products and technologies we manufacture. We are proud to contribute to sustainable construction and green building design.”
Terry of NASEO commented, “The state energy officials are pleased to participate in this broad coalition. The efforts of NASEO members are focused on addressing our nation's broad array of energy problems. Increasing the energy efficiency of building codes, coupled with increased levels of training, enforcement and compliance, is critical to our future.”
“Setting strong energy efficiency standards for buildings is an essential way for us to produce clean, quick, and cheap energy," said Warren of NRDC. “This diverse coalition is proposing efficiency standards that would be the most effective way to fight global warming at the lowest cost. Quite simply, greater building efficiency means more clean energy and smaller utility bills.”
The Building Energy Efficient Codes Network is a unique, broad-based alliance of longstanding energy efficiency advocates – from government, regional energy efficiency alliances, environmental groups, utilities, energy consumers and businesses. BEECN has joined forces to mount an integrated national campaign comprised of initiatives to: 1) Spotlight and boost public awareness of the economic, environmental, energy demand, occupant comfort and affordability benefits of nationally driven and continuously improved building energy codes, 2) Enact federal legislation that will boost the energy efficiency of all new building by 30% in 2010 and 50% by the middle of the next decade and set our nation on a continuous improvement glide path to Net-Zero-Energy buildings by 2030, and 3) Ensure that states and localities have the resources they need to adopt, implement, administer and enforce stronger energy codes for new homes and commercial buildings.