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April 1 , 2010: In This Issue. . .

  • State Energy Conservation Office Proposes Updating Energy Codes for New Buildings
  • The State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) has issued proposed rules that would require new buildings constructed in Texas to meet more rigorous energy codes. While only five lines in all, the rules would make new buildings in Texas use less energy, preventing emissions of criteria air pollutants and global warming gases from power plants, and saving money in gas and electric bills. The Sierra Club will be recommending two changes to the proposed rules to strengthen them.

    Under the proposed rules, by January 1 of 2012, all new single-family homes would need to meet the energy efficiency provisions of the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC), replacing the 2001 IRC, which is current state law. All other residential, commercial and industrial constructions would need to meet the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code by January 1, 2011, replacing the 2001 IECC, which is current state law.

    The SECO recommendation comes on the heels of an analysis prepared by the Energy Systems Laboratory, which found updating the IECC and IRC codes from their 2001 to their 2009 versions would lead to 10 to 16 percent electric and natural gas savings depending on the region. But the ESL recommendation also found that Texas would be better served by simply adopting the 2009 IECC for all buildings, including single-family homes, a position supported by Sierra Club and other energy efficient advocates.

    Nevertheless, SECO appears to have concluded that Texas statutes, which refer specifically to the International Residential Code for single-family homes, make it impossible for SECO to apply the IECC for those dwellings without legislative action. At issue is how that stance affects federal requirements under the federal economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Renewal Act (ARRA), which in exchange for certain funds required states to adopt the 2009 IECC.

    Sierra Club will be recommending two changes to the proposed rules:

    1. The proposed rules should include amendments to the 2009 IRC to make it as stringent as the 2009 IECC; and
    2. The proposed 2009 IRC implementation date of January 1, 2012 be moved up to January 1, 2011 for so-called “Affected Counties” like Houston, Dallas, Travis and Bexar, which are under federal Clean Air Act obligations to reduce emissions.

    For more information on the proposed SECO rule and how to comment on the proposal, go to the full rule published in the Texas Register..

The State Capitol E-Report is a monthly electronic update from the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club reporting on Texas environmental policy issues of statewide interest. Contact us at: lonestar.chapter@sierraclub.org ...Header photo by Rob Zabroky
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