New building energy codes to help the US achieve $138bn in savings

US residential and business consumers are set to save up to $138 billion in energy costs over a period of 30 years owing to the revised building energy code Standard 90.1-2019, according to the US Department of Energy (DoE).

During a presentation at the National Energy Codes Conference, US Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm, said the new codes will not only result in reducing energy costs but also in reducing the carbon emissions and climate impact of buildings.

In addition to reducing energy costs by $162 for each residential household per annum, the updated codes are expected to help commercial buildings reduce energy bills by 4.7% compared to the previous standard. Residential customers are expected to record a 9.4% decrease in energy bills.

The anticipated savings are equivalent to 13 quadrillion British thermal units of primary energy savings and 900 million metric tons of avoided greenhouse gas emissions. This is equivalent to annual emissions from nearly 200 million cars.

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The announcement comes at a time US buildings have been identified as one of the biggest polluters. The Rocky Mountain Institute states that buildings account for 39% of all the carbon emissions in the US, more than any other sector.

Almost 75% of electricity use in the US is by buildings, yet they waste approximately 30% of the energy they consume. The US DoE states that 40% of all energy use is accounted for by the buildings sector alone hence the need for codes that would help accelerate energy efficiency and carbon emissions reductions within the building segment.

Michael Furze, director of Washington State Energy Office, said: “To reach the necessary emissions reductions by 2030, the industry needs a climate-focused code now.”

Secretary Granholm, added: “More efficient building codes are key ways to eliminate wasted energy, lower Americans’ energy bills, and reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

“These efforts to help states and localities adopt new, more efficient codes – along with President Biden’s plans to produce, preserve, and retrofit millions of homes – will provide Americans safer, healthier, and more comfortable places to live, work, and play.”

To help states and local governments to adopt the latest building energy codes, the DoE will be increasing its technical assistance through the provision of education to better equip the workforce.

A series of training programmes will be rolled out across the US to help workers in the industry take advantage of evolving technologies, practices, and building standards.