13th Annual Midwest Building Energy Codes Conference Recap

Webinar photo

MEEA’s 13th Annual Midwest Building Energy Codes Conference took place earlier this month, running from Tuesday, November 8 through Thursday, November 10, 2022. The virtual conference had no shortage of lively discussion and useful information presented. 


Pre-Conference Day 

The conference began with a pre-conference panel on heat pumps and a workshop on the State and Local Planning for Energy (SLOPE) platform. 

Panelists in the heat pump session discussed the most opportune times to replace existing equipment with a heat pump, real-world challenges and benefits of installing a heat pump, cost considerations and equity implications of widespread heat pump adoption. The speakers also engaged with participants on the details of heat pump replacements and upgrade options, and of the importance of educating HVAC contractors on heat pump technology. Watch the full recording to learn more. 

In the afternoon, speakers from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) ran an interactive training on the SLOPE platform. The free, easy-to-use online platform was created to support state and local governments in energy and decarbonization planning by consolidating data from multiple sources in a comprehensive and easy-to-visualize manner. Participants learned how to compare cost-effective options to meet climate goals and create customized maps, charts and scenario models to share data with decision makers and more. To follow along, watch the recording of the training


Day 1 

Stacey Paradis, MEEA’s Executive Director, gave opening remarks to kick off the official first day of the conference. She highlighted the importance of the MEEA’s building policy work and spoke on what the industry is doing to anticipate upcoming federal funding opportunities that will help advance energy efficiency goals. The annual Midwest Roundup featured representatives from states and municipalities throughout the region sharing updates on building energy efficiency from the last year. Some highlights include: Springfield, Missouri moved to the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC); Kansas City, Missouri recently updated their energy code to the unamended 2021 IECC; and Chicago, Illinois passed the Chicago Energy Transformation Code which builds upon the 2021 IECC with other decarbonization requirements. Many other cities and states are in the process of implementing climate or sustainability plans and building efficiency policies. Watch the Midwest Roundup recording or visit the MEEA website for more details. 

Over the lunch hour, MEEA hosted a networking session focused on achieving equity in energy codes and building policies. Participants in breakout rooms engaged in discussions around how to encourage energy efficient affordable housing, addressing the “split incentive” between building owner and renters and reaching rural communities. People provided examples of successful local programs and policies, and there was agreement that accelerating and scaling these solutions must be a priority. 

The final session of the day was a roundtable discussion between panelists in the building industry who dove deep into the topic of energy code enforcement. Current and former code officials and a representative from the International Code Council (ICC) talked about what they perceive to be the most difficult energy code requirements to enforce, how to improve recruiting and workforce development efforts, remote virtual inspections and more. Watch the recording of the full discussion


Day 2 

The second day of the conference began with a panel on tribal energy programs and projects. Leaders from Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Oneida Nation gave presentations on the robust energy and sustainability work happening on their reservations. Both speakers mentioned the importance of energy sovereignty and programs that foster self-reliance through renewable energy resources, energy efficiency upgrades and local workforce development efforts. In addition, the Tribal Liaison with the U.S. DOE Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs presented about current federal funding offerings and highlighted upcoming opportunities for tribal communities. To learn more, watch the panel recording.  

The next session was a roundtable discussion on municipal decarbonization in the Midwest, with representatives from the City of Minneapolis, Ann Arbor, Cleveland and Milwaukee. Municipal leaders discussed the importance of decarbonizing buildings in order to reduce costs, limit greenhouse gas emissions and meet city climate goals. Case studies from each city, from policy development to implementation, showcased the opportunities and challenges of this decarbonization work. View the recording to go in-depth with these policies. 

Finally, the last session of the day tackled the biggest energy consumers and contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment – existing buildings. Speakers from Bloomington, MN, Minneapolis, MN and St. Louis, MO highlighted innovative Midwest programs and policies that improve the energy efficiency of existing single-family, multifamily and commercial buildings, including point-of-sale, financial incentives and Building Performance Standards (BPS). Watch recording for more information

If you missed this year’s conference or want to re-visit one of your favorite sessions, the recordings and presentation slides are now available! Thank you to everyone who attended this year. We can’t wait to bring you another jam-packed Midwest Building Energy Codes Conference in 2023.