OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington is one of six states that will share in $2.6 million in grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to update state building codes to improve energy efficiency standards. The Washington State University Extension Energy Program in Olympia will work with the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development to develop the revisions.
In addition to the financial assistance, the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy pledged to support the six state-led projects with ongoing technical assistance.
According to Extension Energy Program division manager Todd Currier, the two agencies will analyze current building energy codes to see where significant efficiency improvements can be made that can be supported by the state’s building industry.
“We have to be very sensitive to the economic climate in which these proposals will be made,” Currier said. “Improving the energy efficiencies required by the building code can add to construction costs, but hopefully the long-term energy savings will also add to the value and marketability of homes and buildings. We want the revisions to be as painless as possible.”
The proposals will be presented to the state Building Code Council responsible for all state building codes where they will be subject to a period of public comment and hearings. The proposed changes must then sit through one legislative session before they can be adopted.
Outreach to engage the building industry in the process and training on how to enact the final changes will be key elements of the process, according to Currier.
“Once any changes are finalized the training is critical both in making the revised code as easy as possible for the builders to implement and to ensuring that we see the energy savings that the changes are designed to capture,” Currier said.
Currier expects that the energy program and CTED will finalize their proposed changes by the end of February and forward them to the Building Code Council. The council will then undertake its process including the public comment period with a goal of finalizing the changes by fall 2009. The revisions will then sit through the next legislative session before final adoption.
In Washington, the goal is to update the state energy code to improve efficiency levels to 30 percent above current standards. The new standards will exceed those established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America in 2004, and the International Energy Conservation Code in 2006.
The other states sharing in the grant are California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and North Carolina. Washington state’s share of the grant is $300,000.