Model energy building efficiency codes under the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) could be strengthened substantially if action taken at the just-completed 2008 Codes Forum of the International Code Council (ICC) is upheld at the ICC annual meeting in September. The IECC, which is amended every three years, is the model energy-efficient building code recognized by federal law.

“The IECC Development Committee has elevated energy efficiency to the importance today’s international energy crisis warrants,” said William Fay, coordinator of the broad-based Energy Efficient Codes Coalition (EECC). “By recommending the first substantial boost in model energy codes for residential buildings in over a decade, the committee vote has confronted one of the last frontiers of wasted energy, a sector accounting for 40 percent of our nation’s energy and carbon emissions and 75 percent of its electricity.”

Soon after the hearings began, the committee turned to the EECC’s “30% Solution,” a comprehensive package of achievable and affordable model code improvements that, if fully implemented, would boost new home energy efficiency by 30 percent.

Calls for a stronger energy code are coming from a growing number of highly respected governmental and other bodies, including members of Congress and the EPA/DOE National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, ASHRAE, Western Governors Association, U.S. Department of Energy, National Petroleum Council, American Institute of Architects, and Mayors for Climate Protection.

According to Fay, the benefits of a 30 percent boost could include energy savings of 14.6 quadrillion Btus over the next 20 years (equal to the annual energy output of 132 base-load power plants) and 790 million less metric tons of carbon dioxide. It could also mean annual homeowner savings of $112 billion from reducing wasted energy

Although the Development Committee did not recommend all elements of EECC’s proposed 30% Solution for adoption, other significant energy-saving code improvements by the Department of Energy, the Northwest Energy Codes Group and others, which were supported by EECC, were recommended for approval along with many of EECC’s proposals. With these and other proposals on the docket in September, the EECC believes the final 2009 IECC package will mean a substantial boost in energy efficiency for new home construction.

The IECC Development Committee’s recommendations will be submitted for approval at the Final Action Hearings this fall where they will be voted on by the ICC’s membership, which comprises government officials that administer, adopt or enforce U.S. building codes.