This article was originally published in the January/February 1999 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.
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Home Energy Magazine Online January/February 1999
States Ignore Building Codes
As of 1997, the 1993 MEC has been adopted only in Ohio, Virginia, Delaware, Kansas, and North Dakota. Energy codes that are at least as strict are on the books, or soon will be, in California, Florida, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Georgia, Rhode Island, Maryland, and South Carolina. According to the report, Michigan is unique among the 50 states in having caved in to special interests in the building industry in 1995 by rescinding its earlier adoption of the 1993 MEC.
Some people in the building industry argue that energy codes make new homes too expensive for both builders and buyers. But the Alliance study found that the energy bill savings--about $122 per year for single-family homes--typically exceed the small increase in mortgage payments needed to cover the average additional $1,161 of building costs.
Not all home buyers or all states would see these average savings. Energy savings and air pollution avoidance vary by state, depending on the local climate, the number of housing starts, and the predominant source of electricity. Maine, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and Nevada would each see energy savings on an average of 20 million Btu per single-family home or greater, thanks to their cold winters, their currently inefficient codes, or both. Similarly, states with high home heating needs and heat supplied by fuel oil or coal-fired electricity would reap the greatest rewards in tons of avoided air pollutants--an average of 1.5 tons per home annually--if they changed their building codes.
To see how your state ranks, or to read the complete details on how the analysis was conducted, get Opportunity Lost from the Alliance to Save Energy, 1200 18th St. NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: (202) 857-
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