On June 29th, the St. Louis County Council gave the green light to updated residential building codes that will save homeowners hundreds in energy costs through new energy efficiency standards. St. Louis County is home to approximately one million residents, part of the Greater Metropolitan St. Louis area.
The savings are particularly beneficial for Missourians in the long term due to projected coal-generated energy costs rising faster than in other states.
Some facts to consider:
- 82.4% of Missouri’s power is coal-generated, while its only 50% nationwide
- Nationally, coal accounts for 83% of US Carbon Emissions
- US Residential Electricity prices have gone up 50% in last decade
The adoption of the new codes means that updated energy efficiency building standards will be in effect everywhere in St. Louis County that is unincorporated or in municipalities that look to the County for code enforcement. St. Louis County is home to over 90 municipalities, many of which enforce their own building codes. There is still work to do among those municipalities that perform their own code enforcement and have yet to adopt the updated energy conservation codes.
Although eventually near-zero energy buildings and ultra-low energy homes may be the ultimate sustainable solution, the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) establishes a set of minimum energy efficiency standards that will save homeowners on average between 12-15% energy usage.
The Energy & Cost Savings Analysis of 2009 IECC Efficiency Improvements from the Energy Efficiency Codes Coalition concludes,
ICF International’s analysis estimates that homes built to the 2009 IECC standards will save 12.2% under the simple “prescriptive” method and could save 14.7% or more using the more complicated “performance-based” method.
The City of St. Louis is not within St. Louis County, so this code adoption does not affect the city. There is, however, hope that the City of St. Louis will follow the lead of St. Louis County soon, as well as St. Charles County, which lies to the West of St. Louis County. St. Charles County has a population of approximately 350,000, and is one of the fastest growing counties in the country, which makes the adoption of energy efficient building codes extremely important.
Ultimately, “sustainability” means behaving in such a way as to preserve and protect the existing ecosystem for future generations to enjoy—leaving things just how you’ve found them.
There is abundant scientific evidence that humanity is living unsustainably, and returning human use of natural resources to within sustainable limits will require a major collective effort. Ways of living more sustainably can take many forms from reorganizing living conditions (e.g., ecovillages, eco-municipalities and sustainable cities), reappraising economic sectors (permaculture, green building, sustainable agriculture), or work practices (sustainable architecture), using science to develop new technologies (green technologies, renewable energy), to adjustments in individual lifestyles that conserve natural resources.
Energy Efficiency is the fastest and cheapest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote a cleaner and more sustainable environment. National groups like the Sierra Club, US Green Building Council and local ones, the Missouri Association of Accredited Energy Professionals (MAAEP) and the Home Builders Association of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri all support the new codes. Through the adoption of the 2009 Energy Conservation Code, energy efficient homes and businesses will make a substantive contribution creating a cleaner environment tomorrow.
Byron DeLear, a genuine progressive, is running in the Democratic primary for Missouri’s 79th District. The election is this coming Tuesday.