Residential Buildings

Residential buildings play a major role in our lives, and therefore carry a certain expectation of standards that need to be met to ensure comfort and habitability. There are many different iterations of residential building codes in the United States and many ways as to how those codes are implemented. Some states have a state-wide residential building code, while other states leave it up to the local municipality to legislate the code.  

Homes with higher energy efficiency standards are beneficial for the inhabitants in many ways. One reason is comfort — A home built or retrofitted to a high energy efficiency standard will provide a better living experience with fewer air changes per hour (ACH), creating a more stable and comfortable indoor temperature. High efficiency also means the home will be better insulated, keeping the conditioned air and heated air in the home where it belongs. A well-sealed and weatherized home creates another advantage of energy efficient homes — lower energy bills due to lower energy usage.  

Residential Building Energy Code Adoption

Residential Code adoption map

Energy Efficient Homes are Resilient Homes

These benefits of an energy efficient home become even more apparent in times of extreme weather or blackouts. When a home has a better building envelope and better insulation, the home can maintain its habitability for longer in the event of extreme temperatures or extended blackouts. In a time where extreme weather events happen more frequently, it is important to have homes that can withstand the local climate.  

As an example, according to a paper written by PNNL, NREL, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and DOE, a single-family home in Atlanta, GA, built to typical existing standards will maintain habitable conditions for 1.4 days during a 7-day cold event. That number goes up to 2.3 days if built to the 2021 IECC. However, a home built to Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) Standards can maintain habitable conditions for 7 days. Resiliency has a direct effect on lives saved during extreme weather events. Results showed that increased envelope efficiency will save 3.6 and 8.6 lives for the current code and beyond-code cases, respectively.

MEEA’s Work in Residential Buildings

Federal Home Loan Bank

Often, energy efficiency upgrades can be inaccessible to residential homeowners due to high upfront costs. Utility companies and others can mitigate this by implementing programs to provide income qualifying homeowners with free or discounted energy efficient upgrades. In 2022, MEEA was awarded grant funding through the Affordable Housing Program of the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) of both Chicago and Cincinnati to develop pilots in Illinois and Kentucky, respectively. In partnership with local utility companies, MEEA will use these grants to supplement existing utility program offerings, delivering deeper energy efficiency retrofits and addressing health and safety concerns that are not usually remedied.  

Real Estate Training

Additionally, MEEA supports trainings to real estate professionals, including agent and appraisers, to help ensure that features that contribute to energy efficient and high performing homes are appropriately valued at time of sale. Learn more on our Real Estate Training Page