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USA: Advancing Building Energy Efficiency Through DOE $90M Funding

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Building energy codes Energy efficiency Department of Energy funding Infrastructure law Grid reliability
  • The Department of Energy announced on March 4 that it will make $90 million available to assist states and localities in adopting and implementing building energy codes, which establish energy efficiency standards for new additions and major renovations.
  • Out of the total of $225 million designated by the 2021 infrastructure law for modernizing the energy code, this is the second tranche. The DOE gave 27 projects global the primary $90 million in July 2023, including workforce development initiatives and a regional network to support state and local governments as they create new codes.
  • Full applications are due on June 6 and concept papers for the newest round of funding are expected on April 5. The DOE anticipates awarding between 20 and 40 awards worth between $500,000 and $10 million each

US Government invests US$90m into building energy codes | Construction  Digital

DOE Initiates Funding for Energy Code Implementation

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the availability of $90 million to aid states and localities in adopting and implementing building energy codes, as mandated by the 2021 infrastructure law. This funding marks the second tranche of the $225 million allocated for modernizing energy codes, demonstrating the government’s commitment to enhancing energy efficiency standards across the country. With full applications due on June 6, the DOE aims to award between 20 and 40 grants, ranging from $500,000 to $10 million each.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm underscores the significant impact of updated energy codes, citing a 40% improvement in energy efficiency for homes built today compared to those constructed in previous years. These codes not only aim to reduce utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions but also enhance grid reliability, particularly during severe weather events and power outages. Research commissioned by the DOE highlights the importance of energy-efficient buildings in prolonging habitability during emergencies, potentially saving lives.

However, despite the benefits of modern energy codes, some communities face challenges in their adoption and implementation due to resource constraints and legislative barriers. To address these issues, the DOE emphasizes the importance of collaborative partnerships between local building code agencies, design/construction organizations, and standards developers. By prioritizing such partnerships, the government aims to overcome obstacles and accelerate the adoption of energy-efficient building practices nationwide.

DOE Study Highlights Impact of Energy-Efficient Buildings

According to U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm in a March 4 news release, homes built today are roughly 40 % more energy efficient than those constructed a few years ago. The DOE claims in the release that the updated energy codes have the potential to lower utility costs, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and increase grid reliability. According to the organization, buildings that are more energy-efficient even make it possible for people to stay put greater during and after severe weather and power outages. This assertion is supported by findings from a DOE-commissioned study that was released next summer. Improved residential buildings ‘ passive efficiency, according to the study, saves lives in six U.S. cities by allowing the space to remain at a livable temperature for more.

Overcoming Challenges in Energy Code Adoption

A typical single-family building in Houston stays habitable for 3.8 days, according to the study, while a home constructed under the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code is viable for nearly the whole week during a weeklong warm event that coincides with a power outage. According to the researchers, updating existing buildings to the 2021 IECC code could save about 20 lives in Houston during such a disaster. However, some communities who want to adopt more contemporary codes are faced with major roadblocks. One for bottleneck is a lack of resources to support implementation, according to the DOE in a news release last year. Legislators are aiming to repeal building energy codes in some states and prevent local governments from updating the standards. The Republican-controlled legislature of North Carolina succeeded in doing so in August, authorizing the state’s building code council to not implement new home building codes until 2031.

The DOE says it will prioritize respondent teams that include” proper partnerships” between organizations like local building code agencies, design or construction organizations, and standards developers.

Viktor Musil

Victor Musil, pen name for Edouard Py, advocates for inclusive, people-centered city development. His work underscores the importance of ethical considerations and equitable access, shaping the discourse on urban innovation worldwide.

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