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Title: Mandating better buildings: a global review of building codes and prospects for improvement in the United States

This paper provides a global overview of the design, implementation, and evolution of building energy codes. Reflecting alternative policy goals, building energy codes differ significantly across the United States, the European Union, and China. This review uncovers numerous innovative practices including greenhouse gas emissions caps per square meter of building space, energy performance certificates with retrofit recommendations, and inclusion of renewable energy to achieve “nearly zero-energy buildings”. These innovations motivated an assessment of an aggressive commercial building code applied to all US states, requiring both new construction and buildings with major modifications to comply with the latest version of the ASHRAE 90.1 Standards. Using the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS), we estimate that by 2035, such building codes in the United States could reduce energy for space heating, cooling, water heating and lighting in commercial buildings by 16%, 15%, 20% and 5%, respectively. Impacts on different fuels and building types, energy rates and bills as well as pollution emission reductions are also examined.
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta, GA (United States). School of Public Policy
  2. City of Atlanta Mayor's Office of Sustainability, Atlanta GA (United States)
  3. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Energy and Transportation Science Division
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725; 4000105765
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews. Energy and Environment
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 5; Journal Issue: 2; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-8396
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; 32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION; Commercial buildings; Building energy codes; Energy efficiency; Nearly zero-energy buildings; Energy modeling; Cost-benefit analysis
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1400509