Utilities Can Benefit from Building Codes, Says ACEEE

by | Dec 17, 2012

A new report from ACEEE finds utilities can leverage building codes to propel their energy-efficiency programs.

There are new approaches to quantify the savings from code compliance efforts, according to “Building Energy Code Advancement through Utility Support and Engagement,” a report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The latest building energy codes are about 30 percent more efficient than their predecessors of even six years ago, as the chart indicates.

The primary benefits to utilities and energy efficiency program administrators for supporting building energy codes include the following:

  • Building energy code support programs should enjoy high participation rates compared to traditional incentive programs for energy-efficient new construction that are voluntary in nature.
  • Potential energy savings from newer versions of energy codes are substantial, stemming from energy efficiency advances in the 2009 and 2012 IECC as well as with the ASHRAE Standards 90.1-2007 and 90.1-2010.
  • Utilities can also better understand whether their load forecasts and/or conservation forecasts are at risk for any shortfall in code compliance.

Typically, utilities have faced barriers to implementation of code-based programs as they have not been historically viewed as part of their core activities. Additionally, uniform protocols for the measurement of code compliance and calculation of savings from code compliance have not been fully developed. This report recommends a framework based on adapting the new Progress Indicator methodology used by the Department of Energy and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for calculating savings from improved code compliance.

Last week, Steve Nadel, executive director of the ACEEE testified before a Senate subcommittee, examining how incentives for energy efficiency can fit into tax reform.

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