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DOE Introduced New Building Code Requirements for Federal Buildings

The U.S. Department of Energy has instituted new building energy code requirements for all federal buildings designed to increase energy efficiency and save money. The DOE has also proposed additional residential standards focused on consumer appliances, beginning with room air conditioners and pool heaters.

Together, these measures are expected to save more than $15 billion in net costs over 30 years. They will also reduce carbon emissions at an equivalent of 14.4 million homes and save the amount of energy used by 13 million homes over the same period.

As Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm explained, this is part of the effort to reach net-zero carbon emissions by no later than 2050. It also emphasizes some of the goals of the bipartisan infrastructure law intended to reduce pollution and energy usage while providing jobs in the energy industry. The law provides $225 million for state and local implementation of energy codes toward those goals.

Beginning in April 2023, the DOE will require all new buildings and major retrofits constructed by the federal government to comply with the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and the 2019 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Standard 90.1 building energy codes. First-year savings from this change alone are estimated at $4.2 million in operating costs.

According to a DOE preliminary analysis, ongoing savings of $3.24 billion in annual energy costs would result. Updating compliance from the 2018 IECC to the 2021 IECC could save more than 8% in energy costs.

Even before the DOE implements these changes, the Biden administration plans to finalize more than 100 proposed and final actions for appliance and equipment standards, which could save each household an estimated $100 annually.

Additional statistics indicate estimated net savings of $224 billion in utility bills over 30 years and a reduction of 1.1 billion metric tons of carbon emissions, which the DOE compares to the amount of electricity used by every American household for two years or the removal of 7.9 million cars from the road over 30 years.