U.S. Cities Adopt Stricter Building Energy Codes

More cities and states are working together to slash energy consumption in buildings, with implementing more stringent building codes as a first step.

By David Ribeiro

As U.S cities ramp up their clean energy efforts, stricter building energy codes are some of their biggest success stories. In fact, 30 cities have taken steps to reduce energy waste in buildings by improving these codes, according to the newly released 2019 City Clean Energy Scorecard.

building energy codes

These cities are updating their codes, advocating for their state to do more, or benefitting from state action. Since 2017, nine cities adopted more-stringent building energy codes: Las Vegas, Mesa, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Reno, San Antonio, St. Louis, and Tucson. Another five cities successfully advocated for their states to adopt more stringent standards: Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Seattle. In addition, eight cities adopted efficiency requirements for existing buildings: Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Reno, Salt Lake City, San José, and Washington, DC.

Why does this matter? To address climate change, cities need to reduce buildings’ energy use, because residential and commercial buildings account for about 36% of total energy-related carbon dioxide emissions each year. Energy codes for new and existing buildings are a great way to do so. These codes affect up to 80% of a building’s energy load and, since buildings typically operate for decades before major renovation, the impact can really add up.

Building codes set minimum efficiency requirements for new buildings and those that undergo significant renovations…

To learn more about building codes, continue reading Ribeiro’s blog post on the ACEEE website.

building energy codesDavid Ribeiro is a senior researcher in the Local Policy Program at ACEEE, focusing on energy efficiency planning and implementation in cities and communities. He is the lead author of the annual City Energy Efficiency Scorecard and coordinates technical assistance to cities included in the Scorecard.