Washington is one of six states that will share in $2.6 million in grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to update state building codes to improve energy-efficiency standards.
The Washington State University Extension Energy Program in Olympia will work with the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development to develop the revisions. Washington's share of the grant is $300,000.
The two agencies will analyze current building energy codes to see where significant efficiency improvements can be made that can be supported by the state's building industry, says Todd Currier, division manager of the WSU Extension Energy Program. The goal in Washington state is to establish codes that improve energy-efficiency levels by 30 percent, Currier says.
"We have to be very sensitive to the economic climate in which these proposals will be made," he says. "Improving the energy efficiencies required by the building code can add to construction costs, but hopefully the long-term energy savings will also add to the value and marketability of homes and buildings. We want the revisions to be as painless as possible."
Engaging the building industry in the process will be a key element, Currier says.
The code-revision proposals will be forwarded to the state Building Code Council, which is responsible for all state building codes, and the changes then will be subject to public comment and hearings. He says the agencies will attempt to have proposed changes ready by February and complete them by next fall.
The Legislature will be given the chance to raise concerns about the changes, and barring such concerns, the Building Code Council would adopt the new codes following the 2010 legislative session.
The other states sharing in the grant are California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and North Carolina.
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