May 15, 2017
Web Feature

Finding the International Path for Implementing Building Energy Codes

Researchers analyzed building energy codes across 22 countries, characterized key elements of their implementation systems


Building energy codes create a blueprint for achieving energy-efficient new buildings, but effective implementation systems are what will deliver results. Photo courtesy of the authors.

Implementation of building energy codes has significant differences across countries. So found a research team at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. In addition, they found that robust implementation of those codes typically has many interconnected elements. Examples of such elements include widespread code coverage, meaningful penalties and incentives, tools and training for code enforcers, building material testing and labeling, and compliance evaluation programs that help policymakers understand gaps in compliance and improve implementation of building energy codes.

Why It Matters: Energy-efficient buildings are essential if communities are ambitious to attain an energy-efficient future. Building energy codes create a blueprint for achieving energy-efficient new buildings, but effective implementation systems are what will deliver results. Policymakers are increasingly recognizing the need for stronger implementation systems to achieve their climate and energy goals in the buildings sector. This has shifted the emphasis from adopting more stringent requirements to supporting implementation of existing requirements, highlighting the importance of understanding how different countries implement building energy codes.

Methods: Given the great diversity of practices among countries, the research team led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory took a systematic approach to synthesize building energy code implementation systems in 22 countries, which involved surveys, structured interviews, and data validation practices.

What's Next? Current work includes finding effective ways to use these findings to support global building energy efficiency initiatives, such as the Building Efficiency Accelerator, a public-private collaboration of 30 organizations working with dozens of cities to help them advance building efficiency. The researchers aim to form a replicable and scalable model for adoption and implementation of building energy codes at the local level, as well as enhancing their coordination with the national government and other stakeholders.


Sponsor: Support for the initial phase of this research was provided by the Office of International Affairs of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of State.

Reference: Evans M, V Roshchanka, and P Graham. 2017. "An International Survey of Building Energy Codes and their Implementation." Journal of Cleaner Production, in press. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.01.007

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Published: May 15, 2017

Research Team

Meredydd Evans and Volha Roshchanka, PNNL
Peter Graham, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Elizabeth Malone, Niamh McDonald, Bo Liu, Qing Tan, Linh Vu, and Sha Yu