Why Builders Should Attend the National Energy Codes Conference

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Although the National Energy Codes Conference may seem like it’s just for policymakers and code officials, it is far from that. The intimate environment of this year’s approximately 250-person conference brought together manufacturers, utilities, energy efficiency consultancy firms, state and local energy offices, and code officials. Collaboration among the range of stakeholders allowed for authentic discussions about how codes affect those in the building industry and how federal resources can be used to effectively solve local issues related to implementation and enforcement.

Hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy May 28-30 in Denver, the program had a mix of traditional panel-led sessions and moderated discussion sessions that helped to generate ideas on specific topics. Day one included a “jolt” session, where participants had 60 seconds to educate audience members about their current projects. This allowed DOE to hear firsthand from the industry ways they could improve their programs and funding opportunities — which means potential money allocated for projects that builders work on directly.

One session discussed how to leverage new energy technologies and policies to enable greater efficiency, and emphasized the importance of effectively communicating the value of green and energy-efficient buildings to consumers. The session provided an opportunity for builders and organizations with boots-on-the-ground experience to engage with other stakeholders on issues relating to green-certified homes. For instance, how does a builder accurately capture various green and energy-efficient features that create extra value for the eventual home owner?

One participant highlighted the Home Energy Labeling Information Exchange (HELIX), a DOE-funded effort to automate energy information about homes, with an ultimate goal of incorporating and communicating green features in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to better market homes for sale. It was also noted that labeled/certified green homes sell between 20 and 45 days faster in the marketplace. Successfully communicating the value of green from builder to appraiser, and from appraiser to consumer, will be critical for expanding lower interest financing options for prospective homeowners.

Informative sessions on issues the building industry deals with on a day-to-day basis created the space for all stakeholders, including builders and manufacturers, to discuss regional responses to disaster response and mitigation, housing affordability, moisture management, and penetration of new smart technologies.

While building codes may be intimidating, this year’s conference highlighted the importance of having all stakeholders involved in discussions surrounding how codes affect those who construct the buildings. Consider joining the conversation next year and getting involved through similar local events.

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