Questions and Answers on

Adoption of the
2003 International Energy Conservation Code
March 5, 2004
 

What does LB 888 do?

LB 888 adopts the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code as Nebraska’s energy building code for residential and commercial buildings constructed after July 1, 2005.

Why is LB 888 needed?

Nebraska currently uses the 1983 Model Energy Code. Since that code was adopted over 20 years ago, significant improvements in energy efficiency technology and practices have occurred that are not required by the code currently in use.

The wise use of energy is the key to reducing the cost of owning and operating buildings. The Legislature recognized this when it adopted the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code for state‑owned and funded buildings (72-804-805). LB 888 extends those benefits to all Nebraskans.

What have other states done to their building codes?

Nebraska is currently one of only 11 states with building energy codes that fall below the standards of the 1992 Model Energy Code. If Nebraska were to upgrade its building energy code to the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code, it would be joining nearly half of the states that have made the same decision. Kansas, for example, adopted the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code in 2003.

Many other states that share the same climate zones as NebraskaNew York, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Ohio, Washington, Wisconsin, and Utah have adopted the 2000 or 2003 International Energy Conservation Code.

What are the benefits of adopting LB 888?

Based on a study by the University of NebraskaLincoln, upgrading the energy building code proposed by LB 888 will have significant economic benefits for Nebraska homeowners. By adopting the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code, Nebraskans buying new homes will begin to save money in the first year of home ownership. Depending on the location and the size of the house, the annual net savings range from $25 to $124. The energy savings will grow as future energy costs rise, insulating homeowners from the negative impact of energy cost surges. The study, Life Cycle Cost Analysis of the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code for Nebraska, is on the Nebraska Energy Office web site at http://www.nol.org/home/NEO/reports/unl_mec_study.htm.

chart annual mortgage increase or decrease and the first year energy savings for different sized houses in Nebraska’s four climate zones



The chart above illustrates the annual mortgage increase or decrease and the first year energy savings for different sized houses in
Nebraska’s four climate zones — Chadron, McCook, Norfolk, and Omaha are communities in those zones and were selected for examination under the study:

How will LB 888 affect first-time homeowners?

What makes the benefits of LB 888 even more compelling is that they have an extremely modest impact on mortgage payments. Buyers of new homes in typical
Nebraska jurisdictions can expect to pay less than $2 a month in additional mortgage payments, and they may even see a small mortgage payment reduction. In fact, Nebraskans buying homes that meet the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code requirements will be eligible for larger mortgages through Fannie Mae without any increase in income requirements, evidence that no first-time homeowner will be excluded from the housing market. LB 888 will benefit all Nebraskans from all income levels.

What fiscal impact will LB 888 have on the state’s budget and the state’s economy?

There will be no negative impact on the state budget. No state funds will be used to implement the training requirements in LB 888. The U.S. Department of Energy will provide federal funds for this purpose.

However, many overlook the impact poor construction and lower energy codes have on other state programs and the state budget. For example, many Nebraskans living in energy inefficient homes turn to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Weatherization Assistance Program, and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for help in paying heating and cooling bills and for more insulation and better windows and doors. Adopting LB 888 will help reduce these budget impacts over the long-term.

By reducing Nebraskans’ energy bills, LB 888 can reduce the amount of money that leaves the state to buy imported energy such as natural gas from
Kansas and Canada, and coal from Wyoming. Building energy codes can also reduce the nation’s dependency on foreign fuels at a time when the world’s energy situation is very volatile, and can reduce the need for more power plants.

What training will be provided to local building code officials and contractors?

Proper implementation and enforcement of the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code will require training and coordination with the state’s builders and code officials. The State Energy Office is ready to provide the training proposed in section 14 of LB 888. All training and supporting materials will be available before LB 888’s implementation date of July 1, 2005.

Editor's Note: This was provided to Senators during debate on LB888 on March 9, 2004