The passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES 2009) has been highly publicized for its Cap and Trade Program,…
The passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES 2009) has been highly publicized for its Cap and Trade Program, but there’s another provision that is of significant interest to the lighting community: the requirement that national building energy codes for residential and commercial buildings be created that would take precedence over state and local codes if equally or more stringent. The national code would have to achieve a 30% reduction in energy consumption compared to today’s codes. By January 1, 2014 (residential buildings) and January 1, 2015 (commercial buildings), a 50% reduction requirement would have to be reached. Then, by January 1, 2017 (residential) and January 1, 2018 (commercial), and after three years thereafter respectively through January 1, 2029 and January 1, 2030, a 5% additional energy reduction would have to be achieved per year.
Currently, there is no “national code” per se although the Department of Energy recognizes ASHRAE 90.1-1999 as the current national energy standard. In 2004, all states had to either put a commercial energy code in place as stringent as 90.1-1999 or justify why they could not comply. Recently, DOE recognized 90.1-2004 as the new national energy standard, with all states having to comply by 2011. Meanwhile, the Stimulus is pushing adoption and enforcement of 90.1-2007. It’s starting to get even more confusing than it usually is with so many different codes and versions. Meanwhile, if the bill passes, it will mark the first time that a national residential energy standard would be created.
Is this going to be achievable? The folks who bring you 90.1 are working towards a 30% energy reduction goal with the 2010 version of the Standard. They may or may not meet it, is what I hear (daylighting control and other elements will be part of the mix), and they haven’t even thought about the 50% goal. Like the 30% goal, the whole 50% won’t have to come from lighting, but it sounds like policymakers are being optimistic about what’s achievable, such as what LED lighting is going to be able to deliver.
Meanwhile, we keep making energy codes stricter and more complicated, limiting choice, to add to a building stock that is replaced at a rate of about 2% per year, meaning today’s most efficient building could be around for the next 50 years. They’re squeezing design out of design to save energy, while pretty much ignoring the thousands of buildings already constructed, many of them decades old, and most of them using lighting technology considered heavily obsolete by today’s standard.