May 11, 2022
DENVER — The Colorado Legislature today passed House Bill 22-1362, which requires cities and counties to update their building energy codes to increase energy efficiency and cut the climate pollution from new homes and commercial buildings. Lead sponsors of the bill are Representatives Tracey Bernett (D-Longmont) and Alex Valdez (D-Denver) along with Senators Chris Hansen (D-Denver) and Faith Winter (D-Adams County).
Building energy codes are an important and long-established tool for reducing energy use and utility bills, enhancing occupant comfort, improving building durability, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Colorado is a home rule state where building energy codes, adopted and enforced at the local level, are subject to a consistent set of statewide minimum requirements. HB22-1362 updates those minimum requirements.
The bill directs local governments that have building codes to:
- Adopt and begin enforcing the 2021 version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), or an energy code that achieves equivalent or better energy performance, when one or more building codes are updated, beginning July 1, 2023;
- Adopt electric and solar ready requirements as part of energy codes when one or more building codes are updated, beginning July 1, 2023; and
- Adopt and begin enforcing a low energy and carbon code when one or more building codes are updated, beginning July 1, 2026.
As stated in the bill, the intent of the model low energy and carbon code is to minimize the overall carbon emissions associated with new homes and commercial buildings while also taking into account home affordability.
HB22-1362 creates a new 21-member Energy Code Board that will develop model electric and solar ready code language as well as model low energy and carbon code language for cities and counties. The Energy Code Board will be co-chaired by representatives of the Colorado Energy Office and Department of Local Affairs. The legislation specifies several requirements for inclusion in the model code language.
“With innovations in building design and performance as well as Colorado’s targets for dramatically cutting climate pollutant emissions, it is timely and important to update the state’s minimum energy code requirements,” said Howard Geller, senior policy advisor for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). “HB22-1362 also protects homebuyers and renters who are not able to influence energy efficiency at time of construction.”
“It is now possible to construct very energy-efficient homes that run entirely on solar power and do so with a very modest cost premium. If the additional upfront cost is included in the home’s mortgage, the total costs for owning and operating the home will be less than that of a conventional, energy wasteful home,” said Norbert Klebl, developer of the GEOS Neighborhood, a net zero energy community in Arvada. “HB22-1362 will incentivize low and net zero energy housing developments on a large scale, thereby benefiting consumers and the environment.”
The electric and solar ready requirements prepare new homes and buildings for electric vehicles, rooftop solar, and high efficiency electric appliances. “HB22-1362 will facilitate adoption of rooftop solar systems, high efficiency heat pumps, and electric vehicles in homes and commercial buildings that do not include these features from the start,” said Meera Fickling, Western Resource Advocates’ senior climate policy analyst in Colorado. “This will extend the climate benefits of the bill beyond those provided by the energy efficiency improvements in new construction.”
HB22-1362 also directs the Colorado Energy Office to provide training and financial assistance to local governments, builders, and contractors to facilitate energy code adoption and implementation. The bill includes $4 million in initial funding for these purposes. In addition, the bill includes nearly $21 million in funding to support electrification and decarbonization in public buildings and at the community-scale, with at least 30% of this funding targeted to assist lower income households, disproportionately impacted, or just transition communities.
“Many local governments as well as the State of Colorado have set targets to greatly reduce dangerous climate pollution,” said Jacob Smith, executive eirector of Colorado Communities for Climate Action (CC4CA), a coalition of towns, cities, and counties across the state representing 1.4 million Coloradans. “HB22-1362 will help save money for families and businesses across the state while also helping local governments and the state meet their climate targets.”
“There is less indoor air pollution in energy-efficient, low carbon homes and commercial buildings, thereby making them healthier to live and work in,” said Sabrina Pacha, director of Healthy Air & Water Colorado. “HB22-1362 will improve public health as well as save money and cut carbon pollution.”
“Energy efficiency and other clean energy businesses in Colorado will benefit from HB22-1362,” said Patricia Rothwell, executive director of the Energy Efficiency Business Coalition of Colorado. “The energy code requirements as well as the grants programs will expand the market for high efficiency heating and cooling equipment, insulation/air sealing, building control systems, and other energy efficiency measures.”
Colorado Governor Jared Polis is expected to sign HB22-1362 into law.