Does the adoption of new energy codes impact construction activity? As jurisdictions throughout the country continue to adopt increasingly stringent codes, this question is asked time and again. In 2015 the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) and the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) each purchased and then independently undertook an analysis of Construction Market Data (CMD) and publically available U.S. residential Census data to better understand overall construction trends in the Northeast and Southeast US, and to gain a more complete understanding of the impact that energy codes have on the construction market.
From this analysis, NEEP and SEEA determined that there is no direct evidence that energy codes depress construction activity. Construction starts are on the rise, despite implementation of more stringent energy codes, and energy codes remain a significant cost- and emissions-savings opportunity. In both regions, renovation projects are growing faster than new construction. In addition, public buildings constitute more than 40 percent of commercial construction starts in both the Northeast and the Southeast, and represent a significant source of energy savings. This paper will provide an overview of these findings and detail how they can be used to tailor and prioritize codes work moving forward.