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NEEA Releases Idaho Residential Code Study

Study Shows High Percentage of New Homes in Idaho Comply with the Energy Code

Portland, Ore. – Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), with additional support from Idaho Power and Avista Utilities, just completed a study of residential energy code compliance in Idaho with positive results: using three different methodologies, estimated compliance rates were 90%, 83% and 109%. The greater than 100% result from energy modeling shows that many homes are going beyond the minimum requirements. All of these results rank among the highest found in pilot studies in several states conducted by the US Department of Energy.


NEEA used three different methodologies to evaluate 69 homes in 11 counties, which statistically represents the entire state. The three methods used were a checklist of all code-required items developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a streamlined version using only major energy impact items from the checklist (windows, floor/wall/ceiling insulation, duct sealing, air leakage and lighting) and energy modeling using computer software. 

This effort to measure compliance has roots in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which provided federal ‘stimulus’ funding to states.  In Idaho, it provided $32 million to the State Office of Energy Resources (OER), and $18 million of that went to improve the energy efficiency of 894 K-12 school buildings throughout Idaho.  Professional engineers audited each of these buildings, which received a tune-up for heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems.  Many of the schools also received retrofits to lighting and heating and cooling equipment.  These funds created jobs for Idahoans and are saving schools energy and money.

A condition of receiving the ARRA funds was that states adopt the most recent version of the national energy code at the time, the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), and develop a plan to achieve at least 90% compliance with that code by 2017.  Idaho adopted the code effective January 1, 2011, but had no data to show how it was doing on compliance until this study.

“NEEA is very encouraged by Idaho’s high compliance with the energy code, as transforming energy codes into market practices is crucial to accelerate energy efficiency in the region,” said Susan E. Stratton, executive director, NEEA.   “Idaho homeowners directly benefit from these energy codes through reduced energy use, more comfortable homes and savings on utility bills.” 

Much of the credit for Idaho’s strong compliance rates is due to the efforts of the Idaho Energy Codes Collaborative which has focused on the adoption and implementation of energy codes for more than ten years. Its members include Idaho Power, Avista Utilities, the Association of Idaho Cities (AIC), OER, Idaho Division of Building Safety (DBS), Idaho Building Contractors Association (BCA), Idaho Association of Building Officials (IDABO) and others. NEEA pays for the Collaborative --using funding from regional electric utilities -- to provide energy code education across Idaho.  The Office of Energy Resources supplemented statewide energy code education and outreach in 2010-11 using its ARRA funding.

“We’re glad to see such a strong compliance, and will continue to protect a homeowner’s biggest investment by raising the bar on home energy efficiency,” stated Sharon Patterson Grant, Collaborative member and USGBC national co-chair for better building codes. “Although the cost of more advanced codes is often a concern, the reality is that the average cost to build a home to a 15% more efficient energy code has a payback of five to seven years in Idaho.  This compares favorably to the risk of costly energy upgrades later in the life of a home.”

NEEA and the Collaborative plan on continuing their work to ensure that compliance remains high with both the current and future codes.

View the study online at


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.