The raising of existing buildings’ standards for energy efficiency and carbon emissions has become a focus point in federal efforts to combat climate change. In support of these efforts, the Department of Energy (DOE) released program guidance on Sept. 19, 2023, and opened applications for $400 million in funding. States and territories can apply for these funds in efforts to adopt “building energy codes that reduce utility bills, increase efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions that fuel the climate crisis, and make buildings more resilient to climate disasters,” according to the DOE.
Funding for the program comes from the Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into law by President Biden in August 2022. Accessing it will afford states and territories the ability to adopt and implement building energy codes that will lead to cleaner, more climate-friendly buildings.
According to the DOE, homes built in today’s energy codes are 40% more efficient than those built 15 years ago. Adding more clean energy infrastructure also presents an opportunity for electrical contractors to increase their role and value in the industrial marketplace by assisting in these enhancements.
DOE released the Administrative and Legal Requirements Document that breaks down the funding opportunities and what codes and standards must be followed, including the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for residential buildings and ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1–2019 for commercial buildings. To adopt the latest building energy codes, $240 million is available, and $160 million is designated for implementing the zero-energy provisions in the 2021 IECC.
This document will support states in “adopting, implementing, enforcing, and measuring compliance rates of specified building energy codes, while training and educating their workforce and building localized capacity.” The goal is to improve new commercial and residential construction and transition existing infrastructure to greater efficiency.
Interested states have a deadline of Nov. 21 for submission of letters of intent to the DOE.
The agency also plans to release a competitive funding announcement in the coming months offering direct support to states and local governments for even more innovative code approaches.
It’s hoped that adoption of more modern building codes will save communities affected by increasingly severe weather patterns an estimated $1.6 billion a year in avoided damages.