PORTLAND, OR—Washington builders may be greener than those in any other state. The Washington State Department of Commerce and Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), has released a study of residential energy code compliance that shows the 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% and 96%, 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.
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% 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 Cadmus Group, which conducted this study and has done 10 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% less energy on average than the level set by the code.
“Washington’s compliance rate of 97% compare to recent compliance studies in other states that have rates ranging from about 40 to 90%. 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.