The U.S. Department of Energy is offering $45 million in competitive grants to assist states in implementing updated building energy codes, and an analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy shows which states stand to benefit the most.
Louisiana tops the list that ACEEE published Monday. The state could reduce energy use 20% in new residential buildings and 32% in new commercial buildings if it implements the latest building codes, such as the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code for residential buildings and ASHRAE 90.1-2019 for commercial construction.
The analysis found 16 states where updating building codes could cut energy costs in new homes by at least 20%, and 14 states that could decrease energy costs at least 20% in new commercial construction.
Building codes are “one of the most critical tools we have to improve energy efficiency and resilience in homes and businesses,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
But implementing new codes is not cheap, said Michael Waite, author of the study and senior manager in ACEEE’S buildings program.
“Just simply updating or adopting a more recent energy code in itself isn't likely to require funding. It's everything around that,” he said. That can include improving compliance, training building officials, and workforce development to ensure that within professions and trades, “there are the skills needed to implement more advanced energy codes.”
“These are all the kinds of activities that do take some investment, and that's what the federal funding is oriented towards,” Waite said.
Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina and North Dakota rounded out the top 5 on ACEEE’s list.
“If you look at the diversity of what those states look like in terms of their current building stock, current political landscapes, it just shows that energy codes can improve energy building energy usage and reduce energy costs across the U.S.,” said Waite.
States have until March 27 to submit applications for DOE’s assistance. The opportunity is the first in a five-year, $225 million program established by the bipartisan infrastructure law in 2021.