A new 21-member Energy Code Board that will develop statewide construction codes convened for the first time Monday to get acquainted, discuss bylaws and select chairpersons.

The board's inaugural director is Rick Garcia, the executive director of the state's Department of Local Affairs. The other 20 board members are listed on the Energy Code Board Website

The board and the codes it will create were mandated by House Bill 22-1362, signed by Gov. Jared Polis into law June 2. It is part of his Greenhouse Gas Roadmap effort.

House Bill 22-1362 is part of a series of legislation over the past few years that aims to transition Colorado away from fossil fuels. Supporters argue that the transition — although they acknowledge it might be painful in the short term — positions Colorado for a more sustainable and energy-efficient future.

Concerned about the impact of the new requirements, the Common Sense Institute, which describes itself as a non-partisan research institute, issued a report in June that puts the incremental costs of the codes for each new residential build at between $6,450 and $22,352.

Evelyn Lim, a Research Fellow at the institute and director of Policy and Research at the American Cornerstone Institute, said in the report that analysis indicates that it could take an average of 17.3 years to recover those costs.

“That is longer than the average length of time a homeowner stays in their home,” Lim said.

The ACI describes its mission as: "to champion conservative solutions to our nation's toughest challenges." 

The Governor’s Office disagreed with the Common Sense Institute’s report.

"This bill provides cost-savings for Coloradans,” Melissa Dworkin, a spokesperson for Gov. Jared Polis, said in a statement.

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Citing a study by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) on behalf of the Department of Energy, Dworkin said new homes built under the new law will “save Colorado residents $33-$66 per year.”

The Energy Code Board is tasked with creating, for the first time in Colorado, a statewide set of energy-related building codes that will require new construction include wiring for electric vehicles, rooftop solar, and high efficiency electric appliances.

Also part of the board’s mandate in House Bill 22-1362 is to create a low-energy and carbon code to minimize overall carbon dioxide emissions associated with new and renovated homes and commercial buildings.

The new electric-and-solar-ready code must be adopted by cities and counties by adopting the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) when they update other building codes, starting July1, 2023. The adoption of the IECC must be done by July 1, 2026, and must include the new codes developed by the board, according to the legislation.

The low energy and carbon code must be adopted by cities and counties when they update their local building codes after July 1, 2026.

The new law requires the Colorado Energy Office to promote “a model green code that local governments may voluntarily adopt, in addition to the required energy code.” According to the law, the model green code is to address additional building attributes such as materials, water use, and indoor air quality.

The bill’s fiscal note says the law transfers $25 million from the state's General Fund to the Energy Fund and the Clean Air Buildings Investment Fund and will increase state expenditures by about $6.3 million per year. Developing the model codes is expected to cost about $4.1 million through 2024, including $150,000 for consultants to “facilitate the Energy Code Board and provide recommendations to the CEO on the model voluntary green code language.”

The fiscal note says costs to local governments “range from $10,000 for local governments with existing up-to-date code to $150,000 for local governments that will be adopting energy codes for the first time.”

Lawmakers also appropriated $4 million to provide code training and assistance, along with $21 million to “support decarbonization of public buildings and communities with a focus on incentives for lower income households and historically disadvantaged communities.”

“An updated energy code is an important tool to increase building efficiency and meet the state’s economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 50% by 2030, from a 2005 baseline,” says the Colorado Energy Office on its Energy Code Board website.

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