The White House encourages stricter building codes and standards
- Hurricane season in the Atlantic began on Wednesday and the White House seized the opportunity to launch a nationwide initiative to advance building codes, aimed at encouraging the adoption of new building standards, reducing the waste of energy and make communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
- Through this initiative, the Biden administration plans to provide incentives and support to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to adopt updated building codes and standards. The federal government will also “lead by example” and require its own major new construction and retrofit projects to have net-zero emissions.
- Passing tougher building codes can help the United States meet its decarbonization goals while saving consumers money, advocates say. “This is exactly what the federal government needs to do to begin the transition to modern construction,” Panama Bartholomy, executive director of the Building Decarbonization Coalition, said in an email.
Overview of the dive:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts “above-average hurricane activity” for this year’s storm season, which extends through November.
The agency predicts up to 21 named storms and six major hurricanes with winds of 111 miles per hour or more. White House officials took advantage of the start of storm season to stress the need for stronger “hazard-resistant” building codes.
An April analysis by The Associated Press concluded that power outages due to extreme weather have doubled over the past two decades.
Modernizing building codes will “not only save money by protecting people’s property and reducing energy costs, but we will also protect people’s lives by making our infrastructure more resilient to weather and climate impacts. climate change,” said Deanne Criswell, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Wednesday at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Hazard-resistant building codes save $11 for every dollar invested by the community, she said, and the new building codes initiative is “critical” to meet the Biden administration’s climate and energy goals.
According to a White House fact sheet, the initiative:
- Evaluate building construction finance and financing “to ensure that housing and other federally supported construction projects adhere to modern building codes and standards to the greatest extent possible.”
- Use $225 million included in bipartisan Infrastructure Act funding to support the implementation of updated building energy codes, including through workforce training partnerships, while giving priority to disadvantaged communities.
- Provide communities with technical assistance to help them adopt new codes and use mapping tools to track code adoption based on energy efficiency and local hazards such as floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes.
The administration will also “lead by example across the federal building portfolio,” the White House said, by “developing the first federal building performance standards to help achieve net-zero emissions in federal buildings.” new and existing by 2045″.
“Making new construction meet our clean air and climate goals is task number one,” the Building Decarbonization Coalition said. Bartholomew said. “The Biden administration is rightly focused on a high-efficiency, all-electric design for new federal buildings. We are especially encouraged by commitments to ensure federal housing and shelter funding will use the latest codes and standards. all over the country.”
State and local governments are “chronically underfunded” to adopt and enforce the code, Bartholomew added. New federal funding can help”fill critical gaps, [and] result in much better buildings for residents and protect the health of the community. »
Stronger building energy codes “will be key to achieving the administration’s goals of improving housing affordability and reducing greenhouse gases,” said Lowell Ungar, director of federal policy at the American Council. for energy efficient saving. “They’re right to look at all the tools they have to make sure new homes aren’t letting residents pay for unnecessary energy waste.”
Ungar added that federal agencies like the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Veterans Affairs “are many years behind in updating efficiency criteria for the many housing units they support, so they must step up their efforts now.”
HUD in July 2021 said it would update the efficiency requirements for homes in its portfolio, but ACEEE said it had not yet done so.