The 787-billion-dollar American Recovery and Re-Investment Act
(ARRA), signed into law by President Barack Obama on February 17,
included $3.1 billion for energy assistance grants to states for
adopting and administering advanced model energy codes. But to
qualify for the money, states have to certify that they are
adopting the latest residential and commercial building energy
codes, and that they have a plan to ensure 90% compliance with
those codes within 8 years in all new or substantially renovated
buildings. On the residential side, states have to adopt a code
that meets or exceeds the 2009 International Energy Conservation
Code (IECC); on the commercial side, they have to adopt a statewide
code that meets or exceeds the ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007.
Along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, many states are moving to
upgrade their codes and apply for their grant money, which amounts
to tens of millions of dollars per state. There are several ways to
keep track of where your state's energy code stands in comparison
to other states. The Building Code Assistance
Project (BCAP) website maintains a color-coded map with
state-by-state code adoption information and a frequently updated
news page. And the Department of Energy now has a similar map
indicating every state's eligibility and involvement in ARRA
grants, and the amount of money allocated.
At the DOE
site, you can also read the letters from state Governors to the
Secretary of Energy, providing the required assurance that the
state has embraced the goals of the program and taken the steps
needed to qualify for funding. However, a closer look at the
various state policies, and at the Governors' letters, reveals that
the required assurances are being treated as little more than a
formality. Mississippi, for example, has a voluntary code that was
created in 1975 and seems to have no plans to change the codes,
while Maryland has passed legislation adopting the 2009 IECC,
effective this October. But the letters from both state Governors
read in similar fashion, and both states appear to be on track to
receive their stimulus funding.
Here's a quick rundown of the coastal states that have, and have
not, updated their residential energy codes.
• Maine passed a law in April of 2008 to adopt the 2009
IECC, with implementation phased in from 2010 to 2012. (Portland,
Maine has also moved to require LEED Silver certification for all
new city-owned buildings.)
• New Hampshire currently enforces the 2006 IECC. The state
Building Code Review Board has voted to upgrade to the 2009 IECC
effective October 1, 2009.
• Massachusetts adopted the 2006 IECC in 2007, and is on a
routine code change schedule that would adopt the 2009 IECC in
• Rhode Island currently enforces the 2006 IECC. Governor
Donald Carcier signed a bill on May 14 that will update the state's
code to the 2009 IECC. (Rhode Island, according to the DOE, pays
some of the nation's highest energy prices, but uses the least
energy per capita of any state.)
• Connecticut currently enforces the 2003 IECC, and state
agencies are considering an update to the 2006 IECC. (Connecticut,
which has strong incentive programs for solar energy, also has two
nuclear power plants that provide half the state's electricity,
according to the DOE.)
• New York currently enforces a statewide code based on the
2004 IECC with amendments. At Governor Patterson's request, the
state legislature is considering a measure to update to the 2009
IECC. (New York City is considering its own new legislation to
drastically cut the city's carbon footprint. And several Long
Island towns have adopted or are considering measures to adopt
Energy Star residential standards as local building energy code.)
New York is eligible for more than a billion dollars in DOE funding
for energy efficiency.
• New Jersey adopted the 2006 IECC effective in 2007. There
is no current word on any plans to update to the 2009 version.
(Also, they have not yet found Jimmy Hoffa's body.)
• Delaware's Senate passed a bill May 12 to require
adoption of the latest model energy code, and to push for
zero-energy performance for all residential buildings by 2025. The
measure is now under consideration by the Delaware House Energy
• Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has signed legislation
adopting the 2009 IECC, effective October 1, 2009. (Montgomery
County, Maryland, requires LEED Silver certification for county
buildings, and has adopted the Energy Star standard as residential
code effective January 2010.)
• The District of Columbia City Council voted December 3,
2008, to adopt a residential energy code incorporating the
so-called "30% Solution," a package of amendments considered, but
not adopted, at the International Code Council hearings for the
2009 IECC. The 30% Solution stipulates a 30% energy use reduction
from the 2006 IECC; the 2009 IECC as actually adopted achieves only
a 12% improvement over the 2006 code. So the D.C. code, which has a
one-year phase-in period, will represent a tougher standard than
the 2009 IECC.
• Virginia currently enforces the 2006 IECC, and plans to
update to a later version on schedule in September 2010.
• North Carolina currently enforces the 2006 IECC, and will
upgrade to the 2009 IECC in 2012.
• South Carolina currently enforces the 2003 IECC, but a
loophole in state laws allows insulation R-value lower than
code-specified levels, with disclosure to the home buyer of the
reduction. Legislation to update to the 2006 IECC and to remove the
exceptions has passed the legislature and awaits action by the
• Georgia adopted the 2006 IECC effective January 1,
• Florida's state-authored code exceeds the requirements of
the 2006 IECC, and an executive order by Governor Charlie Crist
instructs state officials to pursue further tightening of the
energy standard in coming years, keeping the state's
ahead of the expected advances in the model code.
• Alabama has adopted the 2006 IECC, but only as a
voluntary standard without state enforcement. In his letter of
assurances to the Department of Energy, Governor Bob Riley promised
to "request that the State Legislature consider actions to improve
state energy codes." However, a move to make the code mandatory
failed in the state Senate in February.
• Mississippi's residential energy code, which is
voluntary, is based on the 1975 edition of the American Society of
Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
• Louisiana currently enforces the 2006 IECC.
• Texas currently enforces the 2000 IECC, but many
jurisdictions in the state have adopted more recent IECC versions
(as allowed by the state law). A bill to adopt the 2009 IECC
statewide is under consideration by the legislature.