Charlotte to be Battleground for National Building Energy Efficiency Debate

Next week, the International Code Council (ICC) will hold its tri-annual meeting to vote on proposals that will affect the energy efficiency of homes, businesses, schools and churches across America.  Buildings are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases in the country, making this vote one of the most significant energy policy decisions of the year. 

Homes and buildings account for nearly half of all greenhouse gas pollution in the United States, using more than 75 percent of the electricity generated from power plants.  If the ICC voting members adopt a code that increases energy efficiency for new buildings by 30 percent above 2006 levels by 2012, the ICC will help the US take a significant step forward in meeting the challenges of global warming, saving consumers money, and conserving our natural resources. 

“Simply by voting to improve building energy efficiency, the ICC members will do more in one week for America’s greenhouse gas emission goals than Congress has done this entire year,” stated Camellia Watkins, Sierra Club National Building Energy Codes Campaign Director.   

The members of the ICC, consisting of state, county and city building and fire code officials from around the nation, will be meeting in Charlotte, NC to vote on a series of proposals which are designed to increase the energy efficiency of new buildings by 30 percent over the 2006 energy code.  By increasing the energy efficiency of homes, schools and offices, we will reduce demand for energy from dirty sources like coal, which contribute to climate change through carbon emissions and threaten local communities with toxic by-products such as coal ash.

“It no longer makes sense to power our buildings with sources that create toxic waste when clean alternatives like efficiency exist,” said Emily Fischer, Environment America Clean Energy Advocate. “Next week in Charlotte, local officials have the opportunity to lead the charge towards a more sustainable energy future and away from toxic energy sources like coal and oil.”

Increasing the energy efficiency of buildings also makes economic sense. With the adoption of the 30% Solution 2012 homeowners will save money in the form of lower electricity bills with an average savings of $260 a year, despite higher initial construction costs. Low-income Americans especially stand to benefit from lower electricity bills, and energy efficient houses will lower barriers to homeownership for low-income Americans.

“High utility bills negatively impact low-income families the most; lower energy costs mean lower utility bills that in turn can keep people in their homes,” said Mary Luevano, Policy and Legislative Director for Global Green USA.  “In California, developers use title 24, which is much more stringent than the current model energy code.  Global Green has assisted many of California’s production builders and affordable housing developers to not only meet Title 24 but exceed the code by as much as 45%.  Clearly, any arguments about higher costs should be thrown out the window.”

Joining the Sierra Club in supporting the 30% Solution 2012 is a diverse coalition including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Association of State Energy Officials, Blue Green Alliance, American Chemistry Council, the New Buildings Institute, Edison Electric Institute, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and many other business, consumer and environmental groups.

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