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Green Building News

Average Cost of Meeting 2009 IECC? Not Much

Because of savings on energy costs, recovering the added construction expense often takes well under four years, according to Building Codes Assistance Project calculations

The Building Codes Assistance Project developed this map to show, on a state-by-state basis, energy code adoption for residential construction. An interactive version of the map is available at http://bcap-ocean.org/code-status-residential
Image Credit: Building Codes Assistance Project

As difficult as it can be to counter misperceptions about the costs and benefits of building to higher energy efficiency standards, it never hurts to try, particularly if factual information is handy. The Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP), the initiative aimed at helping states and municipalities develop and implement building energy code, released some data this week that might help.

A BCAP study of costs tied to compliance with the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code – which yields about 15% in energy efficiency gains compared to the 2006 edition (and which BCAP describes as a “minimum but meaningful baseline for energy efficiency”) – found that the average cost increase comes to $818.72, based on a national-average home price of $267,451 for a single-family residence of 2,400 sq. ft.

A 20% down payment on such a house would increase by $154.78 and, assuming a 30-year mortgage at 4.14%, monthly payments would increase by $3.01, the study found. Annual energy savings, however, would average $243.37 – enough to cover, in less than three and a half years, the upfront cost of conforming to the code.

Going beyond code

BCAP, in part through its Online Code Environment & Advocacy Network, offers a large assortment of web-based forums for professionals looking to explore code-related issues, from the technical to the political, and to track progress on code adoption in each state.

For 2010, BCAP has been tracking 10 places – some are states, some are municipalities – as they develop, test, and/or adopt energy efficiency code and related compliance strategies. Each location becomes, in effect, a case study for code development and adoption.

One example: Kansas, lately best known among green building advocates for Greensburg, the tornado-strafed town that has taken extraordinary steps to rebuild with energy efficiency as a top priority. But the state also has implemented programs that involve homeowners individually, including a requirement that each home seller complete a Kansas Energy Efficiency Disclosure form, which lists the insulation levels of the shell, the U values of the windows, and specifications for water heaters and HVAC equipment.

Another initiative, Efficiency Kansas, is a low-interest loan program, established through federal stimulus funding, that allows homeowners to borrow up to $20,000 from a participating lender or utility for pre-approved energy efficiency upgrades. Financing approval for each project is contingent on whether the estimated savings on energy costs will cover the cost of the loan.

Programs such as Efficiency Kansas could mesh fairly easily with a proposed federal program now being field tested: the Department of Energy’s Home Energy Score (HES) program, which is intended to provide consumers with straightforward information about their home energy efficiency, including a score from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating net-zero-energy performance; potential savings on energy costs after an upgrade; and a customized list of upgrade recommendations.

3 Comments

  1. James Morgan | | #1

    Kansas
    How long has the Kansas EED program been running? Any evidence yet that it has had an effect on appraisal values?

  2. David Meiland | | #2

    Line items?
    I haven't looked at any of the links above, but would like to know if BCAP has itemized the added $818?

  3. Sean Lintow Sr | | #3

    Pretty good article until the last paragraph
    Seriously, you believe an estimated guess is "straightforward" information? I don't know about you but I can't just look at a house & see how leaky it is, or if the ducts are sealed in areas that are not visible. May I suggest a little more reading and understanding how a program fully works before singing it's praises?

    David, they do have a calculator on their website, but I can pretty much guarantee you that they are replacing OSB with foam board & other tricks to help keep the costs down & bumping all the insulation values to Grade 1 installs. The easiest way to verify the numbers is to plug them into RemRate & check with a real builder in your area on what the differences would be.

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