Opportunities to Act for a Strong Washington State Energy Code

As we tackle the biggest issue of this generation – the climate crisis – we also have an opportunity to recreate a society that is cleaner, healthier, more equitable, and more affordable. The buildings we sleep, cook, relax, work, create, and socialize in are just one area that is undergoing a transformation. Every time we construct a new building, we are making choices that will last decades: what materials will we use? How insulated and energy efficient will the windows and doors be? How will we source energy for our heating, cooling, and appliances? Which appliances will be used? 

In Washington State, many of the above questions are answered every 3 years when the State Building Code Council holistically improves energy codes. Since this opportunity comes around only every 3 years, we only have 3 code cycles to meet our energy use targets for new buildings. Buildings account for about a quarter of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions and last for decades. So the answers to the above questions will have large impacts on our ability to combat climate change.  

Modern, efficient buildings mean: 

  • Lower utility costs for residents and tenants 
  • Healthier homes and buildings with improved indoor air quality 
  • More responsible use of our existing clean energy resources, reducing needs for new power generation as our population grows 
  • Reduced energy use, which will help the State meet its carbon reduction targets  

We need your help to make sure we capitalize on the opportunity we have in 2022 to improve building energy codes. Currently, our commercial energy code (which covers commercial and large multifamily buildings) is being updated. Last Friday, February 25, the Washington State Building Code Council held the first virtual public hearing on the proposed updates to the commercial energy code, and heard overwhelming support from people of all backgrounds. 

There are two remaining opportunities to provide input on these updates: 

  1.  There will be a second virtual comment period on Friday, March 11. Sign up by 9:30am on Friday to provide spoken comments for strong energy codes and join the meeting here. Spoken comments should be 1-3 minutes long and guidelines from the SBCC can be found here.  
  1. Written comments can also be provided by emailing them to sbcc@des.wa.gov by 5:00 p.m. PT, March 11, 2022

Background information on energy codes, the process for updating them, and some of the specific proposals that will have a significant impact can be found here

Please consider taking a few minutes to provide comment and help our state continue to adopt nation-leading building energy codes!