Energy Code Gap Analyses are reports that document a particular state’s energy code infrastructure to assess current gaps, identify best practices, and give recommendations for how these practices can be improved. The Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP) has conducted several Gap Analyses over the course of the past year and these analyses can be a major step towards informing the state on how to reduce energy use by improving energy codes in those states. The gap analyses are part of BCAP’s Compliance Planning Assistance (CPA) program.
Thus far in the Midwest, BCAP has conducted gap analyses for the states of Nebraska, Ohio, Illinois, South Dakota, Michigan, Kentucky, and Missouri. Many of these analyses have been requested by departments at the state level and have been used to evaluate the need to move to a more up-to-date energy code. In addition to recommendations, the analyses give the national perspective on energy codes, an overview of the specific state codes, a section on implementation, compliance, and enforcement, and a best practices section, all of which are beneficial in allowing us to see the big picture. In addition to the Midwest, BCAP has also completed gap analyses for Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.
One of the most important aspects for success, and coincidentally one of the most common problems being found in virtually all of the analyses of the Midwest states, is the lack of education and training. Generally this is due to a lack of resources available to aide in training. Training should be a top priority in energy conservation through codes because it provides consistency and creates building blocks as codes are implemented in states that do not currently have a statewide code, updated in states that do, and compliance is evaluated in all.
The design and construction community could play a major role in making buildings more efficient and more code compliant, but state and local agencies, energy code advocates, and stakeholder groups can aide these professionals by providing the tools, materials, and training necessary to make this possible. In some states, such as in Nebraska and Illinois, training is being funded by the state to increase compliance and education credits and certifications are given as incentives for builders, design professionals, inspectors, and state and local officials.
In addition to the necessity of training, the analyses also offer other recommendations. A few of the other recommendations that could be applied to all states, not just the Midwest states or those evaluated, include providing incentives to contractors, community outreach, creation of an enforcement and verification infrastructure, and an automatic review of the energy code. The recommendations outlined in the analyses are a great starting place to reduce energy loads in the states, increase monetary savings by consumers which can help boost the economy, and help the states fulfill their ARRA requirements. The analyses completed by BCAP thus far are a great resource for the states and much like a home energy audit. It conducts an evaluation, identifies areas of possible improvement, then gives suggestions as to how to fix what needs to be improved.
Gap analyses completed by BCAP thus far can be found on their website.