Efficiency in new and remodeled buildings

Background

Efficiency is a matter of having high standards in our building codes, so that when new buildings are constructed, and when existing buildings are remodeled, they use less energy. In fact the cleanest energy, without environmental impact, is the “energy” you do not use. Efficiency is the best thing you can do and is often the most cost effective. It is certainly cheaper to do this when the building is being built rather than as a renovation. Efficiency also saves building operating costs each year, and reduces pollution by lowering the energy needed for heating. The city's commercial building energy code supercedes and improves on what is in the state building code. We are hoping to get the state law amended so that the city may also supercede and improve on the state residential building energy code. When that happens, we would like to see a new city residential building energy code that increases efficiency as well as eliminates gas use in single family and smaller multi-family buildings.

Below is a chart of how much the State Energy Codes have reduced energy use in buildings as well as the present goals for reduction. The State needs to move faster than this to meet the GHG reduction targets. The Healthy Homes and Clean Building Act (HB 1084), proposed in 2021, would have required the State Energy Code to reduce energy use 70% by 2027 and then require net zero buildings (buildings that use no more energy than they can produce on site or offset) by 2030. Unfortunately, this bill failed to get enough votes, but will likely be reintroduced next year.

From King County Strategic Climate Action Plan