This article was originally published in the January/February 1999 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.


| Back to Contents Page | Home Energy Index | About Home Energy |
| Home Energy Home Page | Back Issues of Home Energy |



Home Energy Magazine Online January/February 1999

in energy

States Ignore Building Codes

The International Code Council released its 1998 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) last spring (see Energy Code Goes International, Sept/Oct '98, p. 7), but don't expect to see these codes affecting construction in your state soon. Most states still have not adopted the 1993 Model Energy Code (MEC), the forerunner of the IECC, or other building codes with comparable energy efficiency requirements. The loss of potential energy and dollar savings--and the gains in air pollution--resulting from the states' failure to adopt the 1993 MEC is the subject of an in-depth analysis completed last August by the Alliance to Save Energy. According to the Alliance's report, Opportunity Lost, if the 36 states included in this study had used the 1993 MEC, American home buyers would have saved 7 trillion Btu, and $81 million, in 1994--while the emission of 226,000 tons of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and other gases could have been avoided.

As of 1997, the 1993 MEC has been adopted only in Ohio, Virginia, Delaware, Kansas, and North Dakota. Energy codes that are at least as strict are on the books, or soon will be, in California, Florida, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Georgia, Rhode Island, Maryland, and South Carolina. According to the report, Michigan is unique among the 50 states in having caved in to special interests in the building industry in 1995 by rescinding its earlier adoption of the 1993 MEC.

Some people in the building industry argue that energy codes make new homes too expensive for both builders and buyers. But the Alliance study found that the energy bill savings--about $122 per year for single-family homes--typically exceed the small increase in mortgage payments needed to cover the average additional $1,161 of building costs.

Not all home buyers or all states would see these average savings. Energy savings and air pollution avoidance vary by state, depending on the local climate, the number of housing starts, and the predominant source of electricity. Maine, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and Nevada would each see energy savings on an average of 20 million Btu per single-family home or greater, thanks to their cold winters, their currently inefficient codes, or both. Similarly, states with high home heating needs and heat supplied by fuel oil or coal-fired electricity would reap the greatest rewards in tons of avoided air pollutants--an average of 1.5 tons per home annually--if they changed their building codes.

To see how your state ranks, or to read the complete details on how the analysis was conducted, get Opportunity Lost from the Alliance to Save Energy, 1200 18th St. NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: (202) 857-
0666; Fax:(202)331-9588; Web site:

--Mary James



 | Back to Contents Page | Home Energy Index | About Home Energy |
| Home Energy Home Page | Back Issues of Home Energy |

Home Energy can be reached at:
Home Energy magazine -- Please read our Copyright Notice



  • 1
  • NEXT
  • LAST
SPONSORED CONTENT What is Home Performance? Learn about the largest association dedicated to home performance and weatherization contractors. Learn more! Watch Video