Each year, K-12 schools spend around $8 billion on energy nationwide. They use 10% of the energy used by all commercial buildings and are the third biggest energy user of all commercial building types (U.S. EPA, 2011). What if these schools were built to be more energy-efficient and sustainable? What if building and operating high-performance school buildings were a natural part of the school design and construction practice?
In September 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced eight states that would participate in a three year Residential Energy Code Field Study. The states include: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas. Through the project, DOE plans to establish a sufficient data set to represent statewide construction trends and detect significant changes in energy use from training, education and outreach activities. Through the project, DOE plans to establish a sufficient data set to represent statewide construction trends and detect significant changes in energy use from training, education and outreach activities.
As often the first point of contact with prospective owners of new homes and buildings, architects are a key influence in determining the level of energy efficiency that is included in new construction and major renovation projects. But architects have been largely absent from an important issue that’s left Pennsylvania unable to adopt an updated building code.
In the wake of the Great Recession in 2009, Congress passed the Recovery Act to stimulate the national economy. Within that legislation, a pot of $3.1 billion in expanded State Energy Program (SEP) funding was linked to commitments from states to update their building energy codes and to develop plans to achieve greater rates of compliance by 2017. By January 2014, BCAP projects that about two of every three U.S. states will have implemented building energy codes that meet or exceed the energy efficiency of the model codes referenced by the Recovery Act – the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007. In finding methods of reaching these goals, a common best practice emerged: establishing a state Energy Code Compliance Collaborative.