Total $50 to $295 a Year...
Building Code Could Produce Long-Lasting Benefits
How the New Code Could Save You Energy and Money
The complete study comparing the existing state codes with more recent
The proposed legislation upgrading the state’s building codeshttp://www.unicam.state.ne.us/
What would happen if the proposed legislation becomes law? A one-page
summary neq_online/april2004/mec2.htm">www.nol.org/home/NEO/neq_ online/april2004/ mecqanda.htm
Nebraskans benefit from an update of the state’s building code? To find
out, the Energy Office commissioned a study, financed with a U.S. Department
of Energy Special Projects grant, to search for the answer.
The study examined the cost effectiveness of increasing the state’s residential
energy code in new home construction. Nebraska last updated its statewide
energy code in 1983.
This study compares the first year and life cycle cost impact of:
in the Thousands
The findings were clear: An upgrade to the 2000 International Energy Conservation
Code from the 1983 Model Energy Code would generate dollar savings from
reduced energy use in excess of any mortgage payment increases due to higher
construction costs. The difference would mean a Nebraska homeowner could
pocket between $50 and $295 a year in savings, depending on where the homeowner
lived. Figure A illustrates the savings for four different house sizes in
four Nebraska cities.
An upgrade to the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code from the current
average code used across the state produced first year net savings in every
case, as illustrated in Figure B. While the savings are not as dramatic,
they are still compelling: The difference would mean a Nebraska homeowner
could pocket between $25 and $124 a year in savings, depending on where
the homeowner lived.
Figure A. Four Cities, Four Houses: Mortgage Costs and Energy Savings after Upgrade from 1983 Model Energy Code to 2000 International Energy Conservation Code
Currently, only 13 of 69 jurisdictions accounting for less than 4 percent
of the dwellings constructed in the state have codes equivalent to the 2000
International Energy Conservation Code.
Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Saved
Based on statewide housing construction figures, an upgrade from the current
state average to the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code would produce
a combined first year cost savings of $254,000 for buyers of new homes this
year. And their savings will grow in subsequent years as energy costs rise.
Over the next thirty years, the houses built during a single year will provide
their collective owners with $5.5 million in net savings. These savings
would be available to the homeowners for additional expenditures, which
could bolster the state’s economy.
After implementation of the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code,
savings will continue to grow as more of Nebraska’s housing stock is built
to the new standard. Adoption of the 2000 International Energy Conservation
Code by the State of Nebraska will result in more than $59.6 million (in
2003 dollars) saved over the life of the houses built before 2015, even
if there is no housing growth during this period. Because these savings
come from reductions in energy use, adoption of the 2000 International Energy
Conservation Code would also help to shield Nebraska homeowners from future
fluctuations in energy prices.
Savings Are Compounded
Other benefits to the state included additional investments in construction
cost, which translates to approximately 1.13 million dollars in the first
year, benefiting local builders and suppliers while increasing the value
of the state’s residential infrastructure. While the new code would require
marginally higher construction costs, any increase in mortgage payments
is more than offset by the annual energy savings. The actual first year
energy savings are $340,000, and will continue to compound each year as
more houses are constructed
to the upgraded standard. With more than 80
percent of the money Nebraskans spend on energy leaving the state, this
savings produces a strong and immediate benefit for the state’s economy.
Thus, the code upgrade benefits builders, suppliers, homeowners and the
About the Study
The study considered the reduction in energy costs associated with energy
code upgrades and compared those savings to any increases in costs of construction
required to meet the code. Weather conditions, construction costs and utility
rates were considered for four cities selected to represent climate zones
in the state: Chadron, McCook, Norfolk, and Omaha.
Figure B. Annual Mortgage Increase/Decrease and First Year Energy Savings Upgrade from the Current Nebraska Average to 2000 International Energy Conservation Code.
Four houses were modeled for the study: a small ranch style house with 1,453
square feet; a medium ranch style house with 1,852 square feet; a medium
two story house with 2,103 square feet; and a large two story house at 2,932
square feet. Occupancy and usage patterns were based on national data for
Details, including how the building components were constructed to meet
the various codes, how the state average requirements were determined, development
of the usage patterns, economic data used in the cost calculations, the
basis for choosing the four cities mentioned above, and the documented sources
were included in the full report.
State of Nebraska Home
upgrading Nebraska’s current residential energy code, the 1983 Model
Energy Code, to the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code, and
the average residential energy code currently required by local jurisdictions
in the state to the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code.