Roadmap to Zero Net Energy Building Code

Shift Zero Roadmap to ZNE Code Task Force

Shift Zero will support key energy code proposals for the Washington State Energy Code and the advancement of a strategic roadmap for zero net energy building codes. Along with specific code change proposals, the roadmap will identify political, structural, and/or market changes that must happen simultaneously to allow the code changes to be successful.

The State of Washington passed an energy code mandate that could get us to zero net energy “ready” buildings by 2031 with RCW 19.27A.130-190: “the 2031 state energy code must achieve a seventy percent reduction in annual net energy consumption.” This current law can be used as a catalyst to achieving ZNC buildings at scale. In order to achieve the stated goal of 70% energy use reduction, it effectively implies a move away from burning fossil fuels directly for space or water heating and a move to electric heat pump technologies and high-performance envelopes. Achieving the goals of the energy code mandate can help us transition to zero net carbon commercial and residential buildings in Washington.

Recap of the 2018 Washington State Energy Code Cycle

Thank you to all the advocates and technical supporters who showed up to help get the 2018 Washington Energy Code across the finish line this year!

There were three separate hearings in July and September for the commercial and residential energy code. We had strong advocate support at all of these hearings, as well as substantial written comment and analysis that helped make sure that climate was a part of the conversation. Coordinated advocacy is critical for our energy code to meet our collective goals of carbon reduction and healthy, livable homes and buildings for all.

  • The commercial energy code, which regulates the energy use of commercial buildings and larger multifamily buildings (4 floors and higher), was passed by the State Building Code Council in July 2019. The new commercial energy code contains some significant structural changes to the code that will become more important as we move into future code cycles. However, the energy savings are relatively modest — approximately 6-7% over the last code.
  • The residential energy code, which regulates single-family homes, townhomes, and smaller multifamily buildings (3 floors and below) was passed by the State Building Code Council in November 2019. There was some opposition that did result in some weakening of the proposed energy code, but overall, the new residential energy code keeps us on a path toward achieving zero energy new homes by 2030.

Both codes will go into effect for new construction in July 2020.

If you are interested in getting involved in the Roadmap task force to discuss future code cycles, ideas for proposals, and alignment of training opportunities, please reach out to info@shiftzero.org.


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Featured Image: zHome | Issaquah, WA
Architect: David Vandervort Architects | Builder: Ichijo USA
Project Partners: City of Issaquah, King County, Built Green, Puget Sound Energy, Port Blakely Communities, and WSU Energy Extension
Photo courtesy of zHome
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