It’s another thing to educate builders on the advances in energy efficiency in the codes and ensure that homeowners get the lower utility bills energy efficiency provides. Pima County has done that, too, and its efforts were recognized this week at the International Code Council’s annual conference in Portland, Ore.
Two organizations that promote energy efficiency – Institute for Market Transformation and Global Buildings Performance Network – honored Pima County with the inaugural Excellence in Energy Code Compliance Award in the large jurisdiction category for its “beyond code” programs that familiarize builders with the latest advances in energy-efficient building techniques.
“Simply enforcing the energy codes which have already been adopted will lead to higher quality construction, saving homeowners and business millions of dollars in energy costs each year,” said Jayson Antonoff, U.S. director of Global Buildings Performance Network. “This award is highlighting the great work by leading jurisdictions who recognize this and have committed to providing this benefit to their communities.”
Pima County adopted the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code in 2001 to save money for residents and reduce peak utility loads by improving building energy efficiency. In August of this year, the Pima County Board of Supervisors adopted the 2012 IECC, which becomes effective in 2013.
Pima County’s Development Services Department has worked with local utilities, builders and contractors to establish local standards, training and inspections for two critical energy code compliance issues: building insulation and “right-sized” heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.
The County’s “beyond code” efforts recognized by the award are its Regional Residential Green Building Program, its status as a LEED for Homes provider and its Net-Zero Energy Building Standard.
- Launched in 2008, the free and voluntary Regional Residential Green Building Program provides for the certification of new and remodeled homes based on factors that include water, energy and resource efficiency and indoor environmental quality.
- Also in 2008 Pima County became the only government in the nation to be a LEED for Homes provider of services and certifications. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.) To date, Pima County has registered 723 homes in the LEED for Homes program, including two multi-family projects. It has certified 83 LEED Homes: 66 platinum, 14 gold and three silver.
As part of its Green Building and LEED for Homes programs, the County provides training in advanced energy efficiency building techniques for homeowners and building professionals. It conducted nine training sessions for more than 240 people in 2011.
- Pima County and the City of Tucson partnered in 2012 to become the first governmental jurisdictions in the country to develop a Net-Zero Energy Building Standard. The standard provides web-based tools to facilitate the design of homes, apartments, offices and retail buildings that make as much energy as they use. In Pima County, net-zero homes and apartments are cash flow positive from day one. Lower energy bills more than pay for any increase in the cost of the home (mortgage payments) attributable to the energy-efficient design features. Net-zero homes can save owners or residents $38 to $83 every month.
“Pima County is a great example in the southwestern region of the U.S. to show building departments how they can improve building code compliance,” said Jim Meyers, director of the buildings program for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, which works with consumers, businesses, utilities and governments in a six-state region to increase energy efficiency.
“From contractor training to utility collaboration to net zero energy opportunities, Pima County recognizes the importance of working with builders and trades to construct energy code compliant buildings.”
For more information about Pima County’s Green Building Program, LEED for Homes and the Net-Zero Energy Building Standard, including training opportunities, please call (520) 740-6490 or visit www.dsd.pima.gov/Green.