On September 21st, the El Paso City Council approved new building codes, including the 2009 IECC energy code, designed to make new homes, commercial buildings and businesses more energy efficient. The measure — required by a new state ruling supported by Sierra Club from the State Energy Conservation Office –earlier this year, will mean El Paso becomes the latest city to adopt the latest version of the IECC codes, joining San Antonio, Waco, College Station, Austin, and Beaumont among others. The new codes are some 10 to 15 percent more energy efficient than existing state codes. While Dallas and Houston rely on the 2006 IECC codes, they have local amendments that already meet the 2009 IECC standards, though Houston will be proposing some additional amendments soon. At the El Paso meeting, both the AIA — the Architects — and the local Homebuilders supported the adoption of the 2009 codes, only a few months after the Homebuilders had vociferously opposed it after which Sierra Club and the City sponsored a forum to reassure folks it wouldn’t break the bank. In other local news, District 2 Councilmember Susie Byrd is working on a local resolution supported by the Sierra Club, many local businesses and the American Institute of Architects local chapter to create a greenbuilding task force to look at other measures to increase energy efficiency in local buildings. Look for a public meeting on the resolution October 5th.
Meanwhile, the Builders Association of Corpus Christ and their local greenbuilding effort, Coastal Bend Green Built, is teaming up with the City and utility AEP to begin discussing the mandatory adoption of the 2009 IECC code in the coming months. Corpus already has a robust greenbuilding program, but how the new codes would impact their energy star homes has some builders concerned. Sierra Club will be working with our friends in the building industry and the City to suggest local amendments that can help Corpus save money, save energy and produce local jobs! Look for news here on an upcoming public forum on the issue.
Bryan has also announced they will be holding meetings on the 2009 IECC codes in the coming weeks as cities throughout Texas get more efficient. Never knew building codes could be so exciting.
Finally, a bunch of cities will be sending folks to the International Code Council meeting next month in North Carolina, where the 2012 codes will be discussed. Sierra Club is part of a coalition supporting the 30% solution to make energy codes even more efficient.
At a forum held last week, and sponsored by the City of El Paso and the Sierra Club, Lone Star Chapter, city officials announced that they would ask City Council to approve the adoption of the 2009 IECC energy codes for new construction, with an eighth-month implementation period to get builders up to speed on new tests and procedures they will have to enact to meet the new stricter, building code standards. Back in June, the State Energy Conservation Office announced that the 2009 IECC codes and similar provisions in the International Residential Code will be the law of the Texas land beginning next year, following months of commenting and meetings. San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Eagle Pass, and Beaumont are a few of the cities that have already adopted the new codes, while Houston and Dallas codes already meet the new requirements.
Joining the CIty of El Paso at the event at the downtown event were independent consultant Mike Myers, who successfully led an effort for San Antonio to adopt the 2009 IECC and adopt a much stricter greenbuilding program, Lone Star Chapter Conservation Director Cyrus Reed — hey that’ s me — Paul Royalty with El Paso Electric, and Renata Manning with the Border Environment Cooperation Commission. In the audience, were some greenbuilders, members of the American Institute of Architects, insulation, lighting and electrical installation companies, solar installers, and several officials, including El Paso state representative Joe Moody, state senate candidate José Rodriguez, and County Comissioner Veronica Escobar, who is running to be El Paso’s next County Judge.
In addition to adopting the 2009 base standards — which will be introduced at the September 14th City Council meeting — discussants considered ways in which El Paso could begin a greenbuilding program to encourage builders to go beyond the new codes and make buildings even more energy efficient. El Paso Electric in particular is considering adding incentives as part of its energy efficiency programs for homebuilders to meet energy star standards. El Paso Electric has just started a great solar panel rebate program which is now running like gangbusters. And while there original plan to build a 92 MW concentrated solar plant in New Mexico was put on hold, they are now looking at a series of 10 MW to 20 MW solar PV plants scattered around Southern New Mexico.
Look for the City to begin a greenbuilding task force soon with help from the local El Paso group of the Sierra Club, AIA local chapter and others. El Paso has the chance to make its city more sustainable and create green jobs by making its existing and new buildings more water and energy efficient. The Lone Star Chapter and the local El Paso Group will be there to help.