News & Opinions
The latest news and insights from Hanley Wood’s outspoken experts and key thought-leaders throughout the residential and commercial design and construction industry.
There is No Such Thing as a National Building Energy Code
Daniel Overbey, AIA / ECOBUILDING Pulse / June 10, 2013
Does the federal government have the authority to mandate a national building code? This architect says no and explains why.
This summer, the U.S. Senate will continue to advance the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013. Introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D–NH) and Rob Portman (R–Ohio), this important piece of legislature will, among many other items, promote model building codes and standards while kick-starting private sector investment in commercial, industrial, and municipal building energy performance.
Certain forthcoming amendments notwithstanding, the Shaheen-Portman bill is largely supported by the high-performance building community. However, it stops short of mandating a national energy code for all public and private buildings.
The prospect of a national building energy code holds several virtues. Ensuring a uniform, minimum standard for energy performance would:
- Offer the highest potential at the lowest cost to reduce energy consumption within the U.S. building sector;
- Provide every national green building rating system with a clear, common baseline from which to gauge energy-related achievement;
- Spur industry competition to provide products and materials with greater efficiency.
By stopping short of mandating a national building energy code, is the Shaheen-Portman bill making a calculated Washington-style compromise to garner bipartisan support?
No. The truth is that the federal government does not clearly have the authority to mandate any sort of national building code. The root of the issue goes back to fundamental constitutional rights.