Energy savings at stake in St. Louis County building code fight

By Jacob Barker for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

About every six years, St. Louis County begins a long, complicated — some would say boring — process of updating its construction codes.

This time, environmental groups say the process is something residents should carefully watch, because proposals to weaken energy efficiency codes for new homes are moving forward.

They say changes being pushed by local homebuilder groups would take out recommendations adopted by the International Code Council to test for air leakage, install programmable thermostats and put in high efficiency lights. That could end up costing a new homeowner about $150 more a year in energy bills.


The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, or MEEA, a Chicago-based advocacy group, estimates adopting the full list of code efficiency measures would run about $2,000 more in upfront home construction costs. But the updated efficiency measures would pay off in four to five years, said Ian Blanding, a building policy associate with MEEA.

St. Louis County’s codes are still following the 2009 international code. It hasn’t adopted the 2012 updates yet, which incorporated many of the new energy efficiency measures now being debated in the 2015 update. Blanding said proposals from the committee would actually weaken even the existing 2009 energy efficiency codes.

“There’s a lot more energy efficiency measures in the 2012 code and those stayed in the 2015 code,” he said.

Read the full story at the St. Louis Post-Dispactch