Cracking the (building) code

July 30, 2014

Most of us assume that a new home—simply because it is new—will be  energy-efficient. I mean, why – with all the energy-saving technologies and know-how out there – would a brand new home NOT be energy-efficient?

One reason many new homes aren’t as efficient as they should be is because more than half of U.S. states have outdated building codes. One of those states is Pennsylvania, where Resource Media is working with PennFuture and the Building Codes Assistance Project to fix the state’s dysfunctional code adoption process.

Let’s face it: Building codes is a wonky topic, and code update debates are mired in politics and processes that most reporters and the public don’t really care about. (After all, they are operating under the assumption that new homes are already efficient).

They don’t care, that is, without the proper persuasion.

At Resource Media, we are all about persuasive communications – finding the right stories that tap into what people truly care about, and helping our partners tell those stories.

When it comes to people’s homes, they might not care or understand how they are built, but they certainly care about how they feel inside them. People want to feel safe, secure and comfortable at home. They want to rest assured that their families are warm in the winter and cool in the summer – without breaking the bank on utility bills.

So when we and our partners were presented with the challenge of trying to get an op-ed placed,we turned to a 40-year veteran firefighter to author a piece, he was able to shift the focus from the state’s convoluted code-adoption process  to the need to keep families safe and secure through good building codes.

We still have a long way to go in Pennsylvania, but every good story earned helps move the needle a little bit further.

With 37 other states still with outdated building codes, employing the power of persuasive communications is essential to help code advocates turn the tide.

That’s why we created “Cracking the Code” – a building codes communications guide  – to help advocates bring the nation’s building codes up to snuff. The guide is based on a three-year campaign we led with Utah Clean Energy that resulted in the state legislature passing a bill to update the state’s codes, and includes guidance on messaging, story development, pitching and editorial board outreach.

We hope you find this guide useful, and we’d love to hear about your stories from the field.

Debbie Slobe