Why Energy Codes Matter

How much do buildings affect society?

Probably more than you thought.

We don’t often think about how much energy used in buildings impacts society. Yet buildings account for over 40 percent of total energy use in the United States—more than any other sector.

Building energy codes matter because they:

Save Consumers Money

Did you know that the average U.S. home spends $2,175 on utility costs per year? That’s over $180 per month! Buildings constructed to meet the model energy code use less energy, which reduces utilities bills—and puts money back into consumers’ and companies’ pockets.

Reduce Pollution and Increase Reliability

Most buildings waste energy needlessly, which makes power plants work harder and puts stress on the grid. Buildings that meet the model energy code reduce pollution and help the environment while improving grid reliability and making utility bills more predictable.

Protect Consumers and Ensure Health and Safety

Everyone has a right to buildings that meets national standards for energy efficiency. Builders must comply with energy codes as stringently as they comply with codes for life, health, and safety.

Help Consumers Make Informed Decisions

Knowing that a building is energy-efficient empowers consumers and businesses to make informed decisions. Before buying or renting, do your research. Ask the current occupants what they pay. If it’s a new home, ask the builder about its energy efficiency—and then make them show you how it meets code.

Provide Quality and Comfort

How do you know if a home or office is built well? One way to measure quality construction is through energy efficiency. Buildings that meet or exceed national standards are built with the occupant’s best interests in mind, which carry over to all facets of construction. Energy-efficient buildings are also more comfortable and require less heating and cooling.

Make a Cost-Effective Investment

Would you rather spend a few dollars more on a monthly mortgage or spend thousands on a retrofit down the line? It’s much more cost-effective to build to the model energy code than try to improve efficiency later through expensive retrofits that do not achieve comparable savings. When amortized over a standard mortgage, owners usually realize net savings within the first year!

Improve Long-Term Sustainability

Buildings use 40 percent of our energy and 70 percent of our electricity. They also emit more than one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing energy use in the built environment through the adoption and enforcement of energy codes is one of the quickest, cheapest and cleanest ways to help ensure a sustainable and prosperous future.

For a printable version of this document, choose from the following resources:
Why Energy Codes Matter: What Advocates Need to Know
Why Energy Codes Matter: What Policymakers Need to Know
Why Energy Codes Matter: What Consumers Need to Know