Proposed energy code changes would hike Washington state building efficiency 20%

Public hearings set in Renton and Spokane

The Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC) will hold public hearings Sept. 29 in Renton and Oct. 5 in Spokane energy efficiency of new and renovated Washington homes and commercial buildings about 20%.

The SBCC regularly reviews and revises the state’s energy code and forwards its recommendations to the state Legislature for approval. The code was last updated in 2006. The new changes will be considered by the 2010 Legislature.

  • After considering the economic and technical feasibility of 172 proposed changes as well as Gov. Chris Gregoire’s request for a 30% improvement in energy efficiency compared to current (2006) levels, the Council put together a package of proposals that would:
  • Increase energy savings in commercial buildings by about 15% (varying widely among warehouses, schools, offices, etc.).
  • Make three-fourths of newly constructed homes (single family and townhouses) 25% more energy efficient and the rest 17% to 25% more efficient.

Raise construction costs for most homes about $1 to $1.24 per square foot; after 10 years the owner of a 2,200-square-foot home would have recouped any increased mortgage cost and be $2,000 to $2,800 ahead.

Fully 20% of those savings are attributable to state energy codes, mostly in Washington and Oregon. Comprehensive studies put Washington’s energy code compliance at a nationally unprecedented 85%, with Oregon’s not far behind. Enforcement is not a problem.

Codes level the playing field for builders and make home ownership more affordable. Failing to strengthen codes leads to higher costs later for building owners, utilities and society. Retrofitting costs far more than building-in energy efficiency from Day 1.

The public may weigh in on the proposed codes improvements by attending either of two public hearings:

  • 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, at Renton’s Holiday Inn Select, 1 Grady Way S.
  • 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 9, at the Spokane City Council chambers, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
Written comments may be sent by Oct. 5 to:

  • Peter DeVries, Council Chair
  • PO Box 42525
  • Olympia, WA 98504-2525