In Challenge To Industry, White House Looks To Set ‘A New Gold Standard’ For Green Buildings

Published by HuffPost: Buildings use nearly half the United States’ energy ― and produce more than a third of the country’s climate-changing pollution, if you combine emissions from oil furnaces and gas stovetops with those from the electricity powering elements like air conditioners, toasters and neon storefront signs. Yet the federal government plays little role in setting the national building codes that determine whether new construction uses fossil fuels.

New federal buildings, almost all of which are commercial real estate, will be almost completely electrified under the new Energy Department rule. Yet the next energy codes ― officially known as the IECC, or International Energy Conservation Code, and due to take effect in 2024 ― contain few requirements for electrification in commercial buildings, she said.

On Wednesday, the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality announced the country’s first “federal building performance standard”: By 2030, 30% of all federal buildings by square footage will need to bring their emissions from cooking and heating equipment down to zero.

“This commitment from the federal government is sending the signal that the technology and the market exist to fully electrify new construction commercial buildings,” said Cheslak, the director of codes at the nonprofit New Buildings Institute. “So it’s unfortunate that as of the last draft of the 2024 IECC, it’s the residential code that seems to be leading on electrification instead of the commercial code.”


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