This year's celebration of Earth Day reflects the global efforts to chart a path forward to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve the energy efficiency of buildings. The tools and solutions provided by the International Code Council to create a more efficient and sustainable built environment play an essential role in tackling both climate adaptation and mitigation. 

According to the International Energy Agency, buildings and construction consume 36 percent of global energy and, through the materials they use and their ongoing operations, buildings contribute almost 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, all of which has a significant impact on the planet. As the developer of model codes that protect occupants from natural hazards, support energy efficiency and green construction and provide solutions that support their effective use, the Code Council is committed to delivering the solutions needed to meet Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) through zero energy buildings and greenhouse gas reductions. 

Achieving the NDC target announced by the Biden Administration will require innovations and adjustments within many sectors of the U.S. economy,” said Code Council CEO Dominic Sims, CBO. “With the recent launch of our energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction framework  including the commitment to develop an International Energy Conservation Code that includes zero energy building and greenhouse gas reduction requirements, we offer a range of robust tools that will enable energy efficient buildings to contribute to reaching the targets announced today.”

The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and International Green Construction Code (IgCC) have been at the core of delivering energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reductions in buildings. The 2021 IECC already delivers significant savings towards the NDCS, increasing efficiency requirements by about 40 percent over the 2006 edition. The 2021 IECC is only 10 percent away from net zero for residential buildings. The IgCC powered by ASHRAE Standard 189.1 provides a whole systems approach to the design, construction and operation of buildings including measures that result in better indoor environments, lower impact on natural resources, better neighborhood connections, and improved walkability.  

“Buildings are central to society. When designed and constructed properly, they protect us from the elements of nature and allow us to withstand hazards,” said Code Council Vice President of Innovation Ryan Colker. “At the same time, buildings have significant environmental impact. Whether advancing building codes and standards that are responsive to changing risks or reducing the energy and GHG impacts of buildings or engaging with key partners to chart a common path forward, the need is clear and the Code Council will continue to advance its vision of creating safe, affordable, and sustainable buildings and communities.” 

The Code Council is also partnering with leading organizations in support of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funded initiatives to advance the use of distributed energy resources. The Sustainable Energy Advisory Committee (SEAC) administered by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) is focused on developing solutions to advance the deployment of solar energy systems, energy storage systems, demand response, and energy efficiency. The Code Council is a member of the SEAC Steering Committee.  

The Code Council has been active in supporting policies to advance progress. Current legislative priorities include the Built to Last Act introduced by Senators Baldwin and Rubio and Representative Cartwright to provide authoritative federal climate science data to codes and standards developers and others.

Furthering its global activities, the Code Council is the newest member of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (Global ABC), the leading global platform for governments, the private sector, civil society and intergovernmental and international organizations to increase action towards a zero-emission, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector.

For more on the Code Council’s involvement to address the changing climate, read “Buildings and Communities are at the Frontline of Tackling a Changing Climate.

Resources supporting adoption of and compliance with the IECC plus resources and model policies for zero energy buildings and decarbonation are featured here.