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We’re leading an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

Join our work today to help us build a thriving and just clean energy future. 

States Should Act Now to Upgrade Building Energy Codes–with Help from Federal Funds

States and cities can take advantage of an influx of federal dollars to upgrade their building energy codes for climate, cost-savings, jobs, and justice.

Updated: December 23, 2022

Millions of federal dollars are available right now to help states and cities update building energy codes, and over $1 billion more is on the way. State Officials should take advantage of these funds to improve energy efficiency, create jobs, advance equity, and take meaningful steps towards meeting their climate commitments.

There are 124 million residential and 5.9 million commercial buildings in the United States. Together, these buildings are responsible for 40 percent of US energy consumption and generate 13 percent of national carbon pollution. 

Much of these impacts are driven by inefficiencies in the US building stock that result in remarkable levels of wasted energy. Building energy codes confront this problem head on, setting minimum efficiency standards for newly constructed buildings and buildings undergoing major renovations. 

By improving efficiency, building energy codes deliver tangible benefits to Americans, including:

- Lowering household utility bills
- Creating jobs
- Reducing climate pollution
- Advancing equity by reducing costs for energy burdened residents

Download the Memo

Typically, states don't write their own codes. Instead, building industry experts publish “model codes” every three years that lay out updated efficiency standards. Each new model code is stricter than the last, therefore the latest codes offer the most energy efficiency, pollution reduction, and cost savings. 

Importantly, there is no federal building code. It’s up to states and localities to upgrade to the latest model codes and lock in these benefits for decades to come. Fortunately, over $1.2 billion in funding provided by both the IIJA and IRA will help ease the transition to more ambitious codes. The first deadline for the initial round of funding (totaling $45 million) is January 31, 2023. To learn more about federal funding opportunities and apply for available funds see DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program website

State Report Card

DOE tracks state implementation of energy codes, revealing which states are already reaping the benefits of updated energy codes, and which are falling behind. 

Efficiency Champions 🏆
States with current residential and commercial codes

Washington, California, Vermont

Runners Up 🥈
States with residential and commercial codes no more than 6 years old

Oregon, Washington DC, Massachusetts, New York

The interactive map below from DOE’s Building Energy Code Program shows the status of residential and commercial codes adoption across the US. It's best viewed on desktop, but you can zoom out on mobile to see the full interactive. 

More current codes (in green) are the most energy efficient, while states in red and orange have fallen significantly behind. Click on a state for more information, including links to fact sheets that outline the potential benefits to each state from upgrading to the latest codes. 

States that have fallen behind have the most to gain from updating building energy codes in terms of reducing pollution, lowering energy bills, and creating jobs. Leading states can implement ambitious code updates to push progress further. No matter where your state stands, building energy code upgrades will bring benefits home for consumers and the climate. 

This memo from Evergreen Collaborative details the funding opportunity for states and localities to upgrade their building energy codes and offers guidance to equitably implement code updates to secure benefits for climate, cost-savings, jobs, and justice. 

Download the Memo