“As Maine goes, so goes the nation,” says an old saw. But when it comes to energy codes, Maine this year is boldly going where most of the U.S. has already gone. This July, Maine becomes one of the last states in the U.S. to implement a statewide energy code. According to a status update at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Codes Assistance Program (BCAP), Maine’s new code, called the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code and based on the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), will take effect on July 1st in towns with populations greater than 2,000. (The code had originally been slated to take effect last January, but that date was pushed back by the Maine legislature, according to BCAP.) Even with the reprieve, many Maine builders will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the future, reports the Portland Press Herald (“Inefficient builders about to hit a wall,” by Tux Turkel). Currently, says the Herald, “Despite all the media chatter about green building, most new homes in Maine are being insulated to standards that were cutting edge when Ronald Reagan was president.” One builder told reporter Turkel that high energy performance for starter homes, even if it cut energy bills, didn’t make sense in the eyes of his first-time buyers — because they planned on swapping up to better houses long before the energy bills began to really stack up. "They've got a three- to five-year attention span," builder Bill Risbara told the paper. Another builder (not identified by name) reportedly has said the reason that he puts little insulation in homes is because “My grandfather told me a house has to breathe.” Maine does have its share of high-tech insulation contractors equipped with blower doors who are in favor of the stepped-up standard; and there are also a handful of builders in Maine who specialize in high-performance, or even zero-energy, homes (for one example, see “Beyond Zero,” Coastal Connection, 12/15/2009). But a more important factor may be that Maine has monetary incentives to press forward with a code upgrade. Maine, like every other state, is collecting billions of dollars in Federal stimulus package money for home weatherizing and energy-efficiency programs, along with other direct subsidies for a broad range of state spending. But the price of entry for the stimulus package was that every state had to commit to climbing on board with the latest and toughest model energy codes (see “Codes for Cash,” Coastal Connection, 5/27/2009). Maine Governor John Baldacci, like other state governors, wrote a letter of assurance to Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, in February of 2009, promising code compliance as a condition for receiving $3.1 billion in Federal spending. Baldacci told Chu about the code upgrade — promising, in fact, “This new code will be implemented by January, 2010, and training in the new code will be available to all municipal code officers immediately after that date.” Only 11 states have a pre-1998 energy code, but that number will drop to 10 when Maine’s code is adopted July 1. For detailed state-by-state energy code information, use the interactive map at the Online Code Environment and Advocacy Network. Building Codes Assistance Project maintains a color-coded, interactive map of state energy code status at the Online Code Environment and Advocacy Network (OCEAN). Given Maine’s postponement of the new code phase-in, Maine now shows up on the map as one of just 11 states with a pre-1998 residential energy code or no statewide code at all. But Maine gets a little yellow star for having a new code in the works. As the new code is phased in, that will catapult the state into the ranks of states in the most advanced category: those whose codes meet or exceed the 2009 IECC. Currently, just 3 states on the Atlantic or Gulf seaboard — New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Delaware — have cleared that bar.