Did you know that the buildings sector is responsible for more than 39 percent of the total U.S. energy consumption, 71 percent of electricity consumption, and 53 percent of natural gas consumption? Those are some significant statistics! And these statistics are also the reason why PIMA is strongly in support of higher standards for building energy codes – which are the most effective tool for reducing energy use in buildings – and several U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) programs.
Keeping this in mind, it's no surprise that PIMA was interested in the House Appropriations Committee release of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2013. Why? Because this bill covers funding for all DOE programs, and there are two programs that are of particular interest to PIMA – and to building contractors, specifiers and architects nationwide. These two programs are:
- Building Technologies Program
- Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)
Both of these programs are related to building energy codes and building energy-efficiency. Given the statistics above, imagine the impact that higher standards for building codes and efficiency could have on our nation's overall energy consumption. These two programs are well worth the required funding of $310 million and $32 million, respectively.
Consider this: the federal government is the single largest consumer of energy in the United States, spending more than $24.5 billion on electricity and fuel in 2008 alone. A strong Federal Energy Management Program assures that the federal government can continue to shrink this large cost to the nation.
By meeting the funding requests for these programs, state and local governments will continue to have access to activities that strengthen their abilities to choose the best options for code adoption and administration. These activities include:
- The development and deployment code compliance tools, like REScheck and COMcheck
- Providing technical assistance to states and local governments for the adoption and implementation of building energy codes
- Analysis and support for improving the IECC and ASHRAE 90.1 model building energy codes;
- Technical support and evaluations by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and other national labs in code development and adoption activities; and
- Training for architects, engineers, builders and local code officials.