Colorado’s New Energy Codes: A Step Towards Clean Electrification

by | May 20, 2024 | 0 comments |

Colorado cities and towns are mandated to adopt new energy rules that emphasize solar and electric vehicle (EV) hookups in new buildings. This initiative is part of the state’s ongoing efforts to embed clean electrification in all new constructions, aiming for long-term reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The new energy codes set minimum requirements for more efficient appliances and prewiring for solar panels and EV charging stations in new buildings. State energy officials highlight this as one of the five largest categories for greenhouse gas emissions, emphasizing the need for immediate action to mitigate climate change.

While developers may express concerns about additional construction costs in an already unaffordable housing market, studies indicate that it’s much cheaper to integrate efficiency into new construction rather than retrofitting buildings later on. For instance, preparing a home for an EV charger costs about $1,000 in new construction, whereas retrofitting an older home and garage can cost up to $4,000, according to Adam Berry, a senior program manager at the Colorado Energy Office.

The legislative push for these changes came with the passage of House Bill 1362 in 2022, which directed state agencies to create an energy codes board and develop mandatory local codes throughout 2023. The rollout of these code changes will occur gradually across the state, as cities update their building codes on different schedules.

Director of the Colorado Energy Office, Will Toor, emphasizes the importance of these boundaries to ensure Coloradans can take advantage of electrification without incurring significant retrofitting costs. Utilities like Xcel are transitioning to renewable energy sources, and state and federal laws incentivize and mandate the use of clean electricity.

The new codes cover single-family homes, multiunit dwellings, and commercial buildings. EV charging rules will first impact multiunit apartments to accelerate the transition, particularly during Colorado’s apartment building growth.

Colorado is offering $2 million in grant money to assist local governments in implementing the new codes, in addition to providing incentives for purchasing new and used EVs, heat pump water heaters, and other home appliances that run on clean energy.

Looking ahead, debates at the code board may intensify as the focus shifts towards “low carbon” codes in 2024, renewing discussions about whether new buildings should be electric-only, with no natural gas hookups allowed.

Click here to read the full article originally published June 8, 2023, by The Colorado Sun.


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