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Washington State Home Builders Lead the Nation in Energy Code Compliance

May 08, 2013

High Percentage of New Homes in Washington State Exceed Current Energy Code

Portland, Ore. – The Washington State Department of Commerce and Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), representing an alliance of Northwest utilities and energy efficiency organizations, today announced a study of residential energy code compliance that shows Washington State is highest in the nation. In 2009, Washington State adopted one of the most rigorous residential building energy codes in the country. To determine whether Washington home builders met this challenge, NEEA commissioned a compliance study, which included 69 homes in 17 counties. Using two different methodologies, the study found compliance rates were 97 percent and 96 percent, respectively. Additionally, energy modeling of each home in the study showed that many homes go beyond the minimum code requirements.

"I commend our state's home builders. They really stepped up to the call for improved energy efficiency with incredible success," said Governor Jay Inslee. "This achievement shows that we are in the right state with the right people to show the world how jobs and economic growth can flourish alongside a firm commitment to green building and clean, renewable energy."

Washington State’s homebuilders, Washington Association of Building Officials and Washington State University, which provides energy code training, share credit for achieving such a high compliance rate.

“Kudos to Washington and to its builders,” said Susan E. Stratton, executive director, NEEA.  “We are committed to supporting these compliance studies to validate our energy code efforts. These data are a critical part of NEEA’s market transformation strategies across the region.”

The effort to measure compliance has roots in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which provided federal stimulus funding to states. A condition of receiving the ARRA funds was that states adopt the 2009 version of the national model energy code or a state-developed equivalent and develop a plan to achieve at least 90 percent compliance with that code by 2017. Washington’s residential energy code exceeded the national 2009 model code, but the Department of Commerce had no data to show how it was doing on compliance until this study.

“The results of this study show the firm commitment of Washington’s homebuilders to energy efficiency, lowering homebuyers’ utility bills and helping the environment through market-based solutions such as our local associations’ Built Green ® programs,” said Jan Himebaugh, governmental affairs director of the Building Industry Association of Washington.

The Cadmus Group, which conducted this study and has done ten other residential code compliance studies in the past three years, has also reviewed and tracked the results of studies conducted by other researchers. According to Cadmus’ research, Washington has one of the most stringent codes in the country, yet Washington builders are building homes that consume 4 percent less energy on average than the level set by the code.

“Washington’s compliance rate of 97 percent compare to recent compliance studies in other states that have rates ranging from about 40 to 90 percent. Washington’s results are a real tribute to everyone involved in homebuilding and code enforcement in the state,” said Allen Lee, executive director of Cadmus.

View the study at neea.org/reports or for more information on NEEA’s code work, please visit neea.org/codes.

About the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is a non-profit organization working to accelerate energy efficiency to meet our future energy needs. NEEA is supported by and works in collaboration with the Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Trust of Oregon and more than 100 Northwest utilities on behalf of more than 12 million energy consumers. NEEA uses the market power of the region to accelerate the innovation and adoption of energy-efficient products, services and practices. Since 1997, NEEA and its partners have saved enough energy to power more than 600,000 homes each year. Energy efficiency can satisfy more than half of our new demand for energy, saving money and keeping the Northwest a healthy and vibrant place to live. www.neea.org

About Commerce

Commerce is the lead state agency charged with enhancing and promoting sustainable community and economic vitality in Washington. For more information, visit www.commerce.wa.gov. For information on locating or expanding a business in Washington, visit www.choosewashington.com.