Utah families want and deserve energy-efficient homes. Yet, until very recently, Utah’s home efficiency standards were vastly outdated, resulting in many homeowners paying far too much on energy bills and costly home repairs. Thanks to the passage of HB 202 in March 2013, which brought the state’s 6-year-old home energy code up to date, Utah homeowners are poised to save $18 million a year on energy costs over the next 10 years.
Utah Clean Energy and a long list of supporters worked diligently for three years to ensure that all new homes in Utah follow minimum energy-saving construction practices. After a successful effort in 2010 to earn the support of Utah’s Uniform Building Codes Commission (UBCC) for the adoption of the 2009 International Building Code (IECC), attention turned to the state legislature. However, a first run at policy to update the code failed in the 2011 legislative session due to strong opposition from the state homebuilder lobby. The next year, armed with the knowledge that 76% of Utahns favor updating the state’s home energy code, Rep. Fred Cox, R-West Valley City, proposed HB 262 to adopt the stronger 2009 IECC. However, again due to strong opposition from private interest groups, Utah’s legislature failed to adopt the updated code in the 2012 legislative session. The tide began to turn later that year, when the UBCC came out in support of the even stronger 2012 IECC, and Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville – also a residential homebuilder in Utah – proposed HB 202 to adopt the 2012 IECC, which was signed by Gov. Gary Herbert on March 28, 2013.
- Help Utah Clean Energy and its partners make a compelling case to conservative policy-makers that updating codes is good for the state’s economy and helps Utah families become more energy-independent and save money.
- Assist Utah Clean Energy in carrying out media campaigns during Utah’s 2011, 2012 and 2013 legislative and interim sessions.
- Work with Utah Clean Energy to develop and distribute materials that clearly and concisely communicate the need for and benefits of updated codes for Utah families and the state’s economy.
- Help homeowners, builders and other stakeholders connect with media and earn news stories, opinion pieces and editorials that stress the importance of home energy efficiency in winter, the cost of repairs to non-efficient homes, and how improving energy codes would help boost the growing green jobs sector.
While it took lawmakers three years to finally act on this issue, the consistent media attention did a great job shedding light on the situation. There has never been more support for updated home efficiency standards among builders, developers, local builder associations, consumer groups, and increasingly energy-savvy consumers.
A pivotal moment in the media campaign came in early 2011 as the Utah Legislature was failing to pass the first policy proposal. We placed a TV story featuring Shelly Bouvang, a Salt Lake City-area mother of two whose only 3-year-old home needs $5,000 worth of work to fix leaky heating and A/C ducts due to shoddy construction. It would have never happened, the story explained, had the latest energy codes been in place. The TV cameras loved our home-energy auditor’s thermal imager showing wasted heat in a tour of the home, and the anchor framed updated codes as a way to save all Utahans on the cost of energy.