News Analysis

Cap-and-Trade Bill Includes Federal Energy Code

Climate and energy policy took a big step forward, according to many environmentalists, when the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) in June 2009. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where it will wait until at least September for action.

Most significantly for green building, the bill sets national energy-efficiency targets for residential and commercial building codes that ramp up over time: 30% improvement over ASHRAE 90.1-2004 when the bill is enacted, 50% by 2014, and 75% by 2030. Currently, states are responsible for setting building codes, leading to large variations in the stringency of energy requirements. ACES would allow the Secretary of Energy to set a national energy code that states would have to meet or exceed, and would give the federal government enforcement power over state and local government. According to Chris Cheatham, a construction attorney and author of the online news source

Green Building Law Update, this enforcement provision “is a whole new Pandora’s box” for the legal community. “Cities have a hard enough time now with enforcing building codes,” he said, without the added burden of making sure they meet national standards. However, the provision also authorizes funding for education and enforcement assistance for states and municipalities, which would make the transition to the new codes easier.

Published July 30, 2009

Wendt, A. (2009, July 30). Cap-and-Trade Bill Includes Federal Energy Code. Retrieved from