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Decentralized approach to codes means emissions reduction responsibility falls on local officials

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Codes and Standards

Decentralized approach to codes means emissions reduction responsibility falls on local officials

Efficiency advocates focusing more on local code amendments.


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | August 11, 2021

Courtesy Pixabay

While organizations such as the International Code Council set energy efficiency standards, in the U.S., state and local governments have the responsibility of adopting their own building codes.

This decentralized approach to code adoption means much of the work of reducing the carbon impact of buildings is occurring in statehouses and city halls. As a result, a growing group of clean energy and efficiency advocates are focusing on instituting local code amendments that improve on the model code.

In Minnesota, for instance, a coalition of cities and environmentalists are advocating for policy that would shift commercial buildings to net-zero by 2036. The New Buildings Institute (NBI) has submitted code proposals in that state to make new buildings electric-ready. NBI is also working on proposals for Wisconsin and Michigan.

New York, Seattle, and Massachusetts have strengthened building codes beyond the national standard, while lawmakers in nearly 20 states, including Wyoming, Iowa, and Colorado, have considered legislation that would prohibit bans on gas in new buildings. These developments indicate that the fight over energy efficiency code provisions is likely to heat up.

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