Some Stimulus Dollars Require Texas Adoption of Efficient Building Codes

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House Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding to Examine Issue Today

AUSTIN – At least $200 million in federal funding for energy efficiency measures in Texas hinges on the state adopting the latest building codes for energy efficiency, according to an analysis by Environment Texas of the economic recovery package recently signed in to law by President Obama. The building codes would require home builders to improve the minimum efficiency of new residences by approximately fifteen percent.

“Adopting the latest building codes for new homes already makes sense on its own right – they will save energy, save consumers money and reduce pollution,” said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger. “This federal money is just icing on the cake. Hopefully, Governor Perry and the Legislature will take advantage of this incredible opportunity to rebuild our state with highly efficient homes, schools and public buildings.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) includes $3.1 billion for state energy programs such as the Comptroller’s State Energy Conservation Office (SECO). SECO has already contacted the U.S. Department of Energy to begin the process of receiving about $200 million for efforts such as the LoanSTAR program, a successful revolving loan fund which has helped almost two hundred school districts and local governments invest in energy-saving measures.

However, in order to receive the funding, ARRA requires that Governor Perry first certify that Texas will implement a building energy code for residential buildings that meets or exceeds the most recently published International Energy Conservation Code (IECC); a building energy code for commercial buildings throughout the state that meets or exceeds the ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007;and a plan to achieve compliance with their certified energy codes within eight years in at least 90% of new and renovated residential and commercial building space, including active training and enforcement programs and measurement of the rate of compliance each year.

Legislation to adopt the latest building codes are included in SB 16, an omnibus clean air bill by Sen. Kip Averitt (R-Waco), Chair of the Senate Natural Resources committee. According to a 2007 report by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, if Texas adopted the latest building codes and increased funding for the LoanSTAR program by $200 million, the state would save enough electricity to power almost one million homes annually by 2020.

Today, the House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding will examine funding to SECO.