Today, by a vote of 20-15, the Maine Senate approved legislation (already passed by the House 78-58) to establish building standards to reduce fuel consumption in new homes. Maine joins 40 other states with statewide energy efficiency standards for new homes.
Maine’s new law has several elements that make it better than just adopting a statewide code. The law establishes a code board that will proactively resolve any conflicts between codes, undertake periodic updates, and offer training to code officials and builders. The bill also ensures enforcement of the building and energy codes in towns with more than 2,000 residents, and offers creative and flexible options for inspection. Maine’s system will embrace an innovative approach which harnesses the private sector by offering towns the option of using independent building inspectors.
“A lack of energy efficiency standards is a significant gap in Maine’s ability to cut energy consumption, lower heating oil bills and reduce air and global warming pollution,” Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director, NRCM. “This is truly a piece of legislation that is good news from both business and environmental perspectives.”
Earlier this month, economist Dr. Charles Colgan presented Governor Baldacci with a report recommending energy efficiency standards for buildings as a way to improve Maine’s economy.
The residential building codes will be formally adopted in 2010. In the first year the codes will save Maine people $2 million in energy costs, with annual savings increasing by $2 million each year. By 2015, Maine people will see $30 million in savings on energy bills.
The residential sector accounts for 25% of direct global warming pollutants (not counting transportation or electricity), mostly from burning oil.