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Advocates: Updated Building Codes Would Save Hoosiers $

About 48,000 Hoosiers are employed in the clean-energy sector. (energy.gov)
About 48,000 Hoosiers are employed in the clean-energy sector. (energy.gov)
November 14, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana came in pretty low this year on a state scorecard for energy efficiency, and advocates of improving that ranking say consumers are missing out on savings.

They contend the Hoosier State is using outdated building compliance codes, and that modernizing them will help the environment and reduce utility bills. The Indiana Fire Prevention and Building Safety Committee is meeting this week to consider updating those codes.

Monica Cannaley, energy-efficiency organizer for the Sierra Club's Hoosier Chapter, says the national codes are updated every three years, and states are encouraged to update theirs as well, but Indiana is using codes from 2009. The Hoosier State was ranked 40th for energy efficiency by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

"We are behind Michigan (and) Illinois," she notes. "So when it comes to attracting jobs, attracting homeowners, we are behind when it comes to our requirements for new construction."

Cannaley says updated codes help the clean-energy sector. Indiana leads the Midwest in clean-energy job growth, with nearly 48,000 people employed in the industry currently. Clean-energy jobs grew more than five times faster than the overall job market in Indiana between 2015 and 2016, most of it coming from the solar industry.

Cannaley says having outdated codes costs people money, adding that if the 2015 regulations were adopted, a future homeowner or renter could expect to reduce energy-use costs by 21 percent and save more than $400 per year on energy bills.

"We've got people struggling to pay utility bills, and if we can have our new housing stock achieve higher energy efficiency, that benefits homeowners through the life of the home," she explains.

Keeping buildings up to code also helps keep people safe. Cannaley says the energy code affects moisture management, which includes rot, mold, and mildew, indoor air quality, fire safety, extreme weather protection and resiliency of home and buildings. It works in tandem with the other model building codes to ensure safe buildings.

A report about Indiana’s energy efficiency programs can be found here.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN