Building codes are inconsistent across the country. What is allowed in one city may be mandated in another and not covered at all in a third. Proposed national building codes rarely make it out of Congress, but some organizations are leading the way to getting cities and states to adopt codes to smooth out the wide variety of rules now in existence.

New homes should be more energy efficient, saving consumers money while reducing harmful carbon emissions, if a new building code proposed by the ICC (Intl. Code Council) is ratified by the ICC membership and adopted by cities and states.  The ICC is an association of code officials and it is preparing its 2021 version of the IECC (Intl. Energy Conservation Code) a model energy code for the United States. Buildings account for about 35% of U.S. carbon emissions and many builders and architects see the IECC as a key approach to reducing energy use and heat-trapping emissions.

As proposed, the residential code will require builders to wire garages and parking places for future installation of electric vehicle chargers and to install electrification-ready circuits near natural gas and propane equipment. In addition, an optional zero energy addendum will provide a simple pathway for leading cities and states to require much higher levels of performance.

The new code also includes a flexible savings mechanism. This provision will allow builders to choose energy efficiency upgrades, ranging from improved insulation to more efficient air conditioners and water heaters, that work best for them to reduce energy use 5%.

Code officials also propose improvements to the commercial code including requirements for improved building insulation, greater use of smart energy management and control systems, and electric vehicle charger requirements similar to the residential code.

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