Wednesday, February 15, 2012

More State Codes Call for Greater Home Energy Efficiency

More builders are raising the bar when it comes to greater energy efficiency in homes. The new-home industry is using it as a lure to attract buyers, but they’re also, in some cases, being forced to adopt more stringent state energy code standards for new residences.

While greater energy efficiency in new homes can serve as a selling point to potential buyers, some builders are also growing concerned that the tougher energy codes being adopted by a growing number of states are coming at a high price tag at a time when the industry is still struggling.

"There's definitely been a lot of movement by states to adopt more energy-efficient codes," Max Neubauer of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, told USA Today.

While energy building codes are usually updated every three years, the last two updates have called for greater leaps in increasing energy efficiency.

Paul Karrer of the Online Code Environment and Advocacy Network estimates that moving from the 2006 energy code to the more stringent 2009 energy code alone led to about $840, on average, in extra costs to a new home. On the other hand, Karrer says it has the potential to cut home owners’ utility bills by $243 each year.

Last month, Maryland became the first state in the country to require that new homes must meet the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code. The code calls for about 30 percent greater efficiency than homes that were built five years ago.

Also offering up new standards, the International Green Construction Code will debut next month. The code will serve as a voluntary guide for commercial and public buildings aimed at curbing energy and water use as well as improving indoor air quality. Several states are already planning to adopt it.

Source: “More New Homes Conserve Energy,” USA Today (Feb. 15, 2012)

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