Historic milestone for energy-efficiency advocates

The 2012 International Energy Conservation Code calls for a 30-percent energy savings in homes and commercial buildings.

November 23, 2010

TROY, Mich. – The Kresge Foundation's grant funding empowered four leading environmental organizations to support a historic vote that sets higher energy-efficiency code requirements for buildings under the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

The more-stringent code provisions will require new and renovated homes and commercial buildings to use 30 percent less energy than those built to the 2006 standards. Given that homes and buildings account for approximately 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption and two-thirds of America's electricity usage, the code changes will significantly lower energy bills and reduce pollution from power plants and furnaces.

Members of the International Code Council (ICC), meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, approved the far-reaching changes to the nation's model energy code at the Final Action Hearings for the 2012 IECC in late October. The comprehensive proposals sought by the U.S. Department of Energy, The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the broad-based Energy Efficient Codes Coalition (EECC), and other stakeholders leverage sensible, cost-effective strategies for reducing energy usage, such as improving the thermal envelope and HVAC and electrical systems.

Read the ICC's complete summary of the 2012 IECC hearings, "Report of Final Action on Proposed Code."

To take effect, the 2012 IECC provisions must be adopted by state and local governments as the minimum standards of quality and energy efficiency for home and commercial building construction, additions, and renovations. A study by the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that a 30-percent boost in energy efficiency returns an average of $511 per year in energy savings to homeowners.

"Improving the 2012 IECC standard by 30 percent beyond the 2006 IECC lays a strong foundation for future IECC building energy code reductions," says Edward Mazria, the chief executive of Architecture 2030, a Kresge grantee and member of the EECC. "It is an important step on the way to carbon neutral buildings and maintains the validity of the Architecture 2030 timeline that moves us toward carbon neutral buildings by 2030."

Mazria continues, saying, "Kresge Foundation support of Architecture 2030's activities has contributed greatly to this landmark action by the IECC. Our strategies of research, education, and advocacy guide specific activities that have resulted in the adoption of The 2030 Challenge targets by most building sector and government organizations."

Other Kresge grant recipients also contributed to the ground swell of support for the inclusion of energy-efficiency improvements in the 2012 IECC. These organizations include: the Institute for Market Transformation; the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy; and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA. Kresge's grant awards reflect the Environment Program's focus on energy efficiency, one of four key programmatic areas. Recent funding for environmental groups has fostered nonprofit efforts to shape the development and accelerate the implementation of key public policies, next-generation energy-efficiency practices, and other innovations.

"The gains made in the 2012 IECC represent an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to put our nation on the path to a more energy-efficient future," says Jessica Boehland, a program officer on Kresge's Environment team.