Battle Heats Up Over Green Building Codes

Better construction seen as best chance of saving energy
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2009 7:44 AM CDT
At least seven states have virtually no rules requiring new buildings to be energy efficient.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Authorities are trying to hammer together tighter nationwide building codes to save energy and combat climate change, the New York Times reports. Experts say requiring buildings to be more efficient will do more to save energy than any other single policy move, but codes remain weak to nonexistent across half the country. Campaigners warn that inefficient building now is locking in energy profligacy for decades to come.

The construction industry is fighting moves to tighten codes, saying that requirements for energy-saving materials and extra insulation will add thousands of dollars to the cost of new homes and further damage the housing market. Austin, however—which requires new buildings to be audited for energy efficiency—says upgrades for efficiency pay for themselves within 5 years and keep saving homeowners hundreds of dollars a year afterwards.