IEE White Paper Addresses Building Codes & Appliance Standards for Electric Utilities

August 22, 2011 by Jeff Shepard

In a new white paper, the Institute for Electric Efficiency (IEE) offers electric utilities potential paths for including building codes and appliance standards in their energy efficiency portfolios. A previous IEE study found that these two policy mechanisms hold tremendous potential to affect the country’s long-term energy growth rate.

The new IEE study, "Integrating Codes and Standards into Electric Utility Energy Efficiency Portfolios," draws on lessons learned by electric utilities in the handful of states and regions that already have taken steps to promote more efficient codes and standards. The study then presents three broad approaches or models for utilities to follow.

According to Lisa Wood, IEE Executive Director, "In the Pacific Northwest for example, the region’s utilities and energy efficiency groups have been working together on voluntary initiatives that are aimed at training and informing building professionals on new technologies and practices that can deliver energy savings. Their strategy in promoting cost-effective advances in building codes has accounted for 30% of the region’s estimated total cumulative energy savings between 1978 and 2009."

Broadly, the IEE study identified three ways for utilities to get involved with appliance and equipment standards. These approaches embody different emphasis areas and varying levels of engagement between utilities and stakeholders involved with the development, adoption, and enhancement of building energy codes and appliance/equipment standards.

Among the key lessons learned and elements of success are:

· Move from information-only efforts to programs that advocate and support the enhancement of codes and standards.

· Unify minimum code requirements across all municipal jurisdictions in a state.

· Enable jurisdictions to elect more stringent, cost-effective codes and standards.

· Develop a credit and reporting system used by utilities and regulators that places an emphasis on compliance and training.

· Develop state standards for appliances/equipment not covered by federal standards.

· Transform the marketplace by incenting the purchase of appliances and equipment with efficiency ratings greater than the minimum standard.

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