Energy Efficiency Policies and Practices in Iowa

Residential and Commercial Sectors

Residential and commercial buildings account for 40% of energy use in the country.  These buildings where we live and work are affected by policies that provide minimum construction standards that reduce energy waste, provide financing options to help pay for energy upgrades, promote advancing energy efficiency through high-performance buildings that go beyond minimum requirements and techniques for taking advantage of the latest technologies in energy monitoring and control, and that ensure that as buildings become tighter that the health and safety of occupants are maintained.

Building Energy Codes in Iowa

Code Level

Residential Energy Code

2012 IECC

Iowa State Energy Code

Commercial Energy Code

2012 IECC

Iowa State Energy Code


Authorized by Legislation & Regulation. Under the authority of Iowa Code 103A.7.2(f),  the state building commissioner is required to include in the building code provisions that provide for "conservation of energy through thermal efficiency standards for buildings intended for human occupancy and which are heated or cooled and lighting efficiency standards for buildings intended for human occupancy which are lighted." Iowa Code 103A.8A requires the adoption of a code, based on national model energy codes, for single- and two-family residences. The legislation does not specify which model code or version are to be adopted, however. The determination of what codes to adopt is held by the building commissioner. The Iowa State Energy Code is found at 661 Iowa Administrative Code, Chapter 303.

Local jurisdictions in Iowa are allowed to adopt or not adopt the State Building Code, but some provisions like energy are applicable statewide. Jurisdictions are allowed to adopt energy codes that are more stringent than the state code.

Oversight – Code oversight is through the Iowa State Fire Marshall Division, Building Code Bureau. A legislatively-created Commission on Energy Efficiency Standards and Practices worked from 2008-2010 to evaluate energy efficiency codes and make recommendations on the adoption of standards for new construction.

Code change process – Regulatory. The Building Code Commissioner, within the Building Code Bureau, initiates the process to upgrade the energy code. Those tentative amendments are approved or disapproved by the appointed Building Code Advisory Council.

Code change cycle – The Iowa State Energy Code is updated on a three year cycle, concurrent with the upgrades to the model energy code.


Enforcement Building energy code enforcement is part of the duties of local code inspectors for the jurisdiction having authority over the building.  If a local jurisdiction has not adopted a code, then plan review can be performed by the state commission.

Implementation/Compliance Studies – According to the Building Codes Assistance Project, Iowa is engaged in a DOE-sponsored Compliance Pilot Study with a goal of achieving 90% compliance with the 2009 IECC.

► Overview of building energy codes in the Midwest

Home Performance

In addition to building energy codes, states and utilities are often looking for ways to take buildings "beyond code" and achieve higher levels of energy savings. Home performance programs are becoming widespread in the region and offer a good best-practices example of a next step beyond baseline building energy code for states and utilities that are interested in achieving additional energy savings in residential buildings.

Summary of Home Peformance Programs in Iowa
  Administrator Program Audit Fee Maximum Customer Benefit
Iowa Black Hills Energy HPwES (Council Bluffs pilot) $100 $200 bonus on top of Black Hills Energy's rebates
Alliant HPwES (Grinnell pilot) $99 $400 in cash rewards if three recommended improvements are made
MidAmerican HPwES (Des Moines pilot) Market rates Rebates depending on audit and a HERS index improvement of 20% or more

► Overview of home performance programs in the Midwest


Read the report that accompanies these pages:
Energy Efficiency Policies, Programs, and Practices in the Midwest:
A Resource Guide for Policymakers (2014 Edition)

►more information about the Resource Guide