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6/26/2023 Sen. Gu bill to update green building codes enacted
STATE HOUSE – A bill by Sen. Victoria Gu to put Rhode Island on track to become the first state to adopt the 2024 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for new and renovated buildings has been signed by the governor. The codes will include, for the first time, electric readiness.

“This law ensures Rhode Island’s buildings are built with the future in mind. Using the latest energy efficiency standards will save consumers and businesses money on their utility bills while helping us meet our emissions targets,” said Senator Gu (D-Dist. 38, Charlestown, Westerly, South Kingstown).

The IECC is updated every three years by the International Code Council through a collaborative process with contractors, local governments and industry professionals. But while the IECC was updated in 2021, regulators in Rhode Island are still following the 2018 standards. The 2024 standards are expected to be released this fall.

The law (2023-S 0855A) requires the Rhode Island Building Code Commission to adopt the 2024 IECC standards within three months of their publication for both residential and commercial buildings. Within 18 months of publication, the State Building Code Standards Committee would devise a plan to ensure at least 90% of new construction and renovated buildings comply with the standards.

The current draft of the 2024 standards is expected to save 8-12% on energy usage compared to the 2021 standards, and the 2024 standards include, for the first time, electric readiness. Electric readiness refers to a set of building standards that ensures building owners can easily add electric vehicle charging, solar, heat pumps and other technologies later on. This preparedness can create significant savings for consumers and businesses because buildings built without electric readiness often need significant, costly retrofits down the road in order to add new technologies. 

Residential heating, commercial heating and natural gas distribution combined contribute about 30% of Rhode Island’s greenhouse gas emissions, so upgrading building efficiency and electrification is critical to meeting the Act on Climate. Adopting the 2024 standards also makes Rhode Island eligible for federal funding through the Inflation Reduction Act for building code implementation and training.

“This bill is a win for decarbonizing new buildings,” said Amanda Barker, policy advocate at Green Energy Consumers Alliance. “Adopting the 2024 IECC will ensure greater efficiency standards for new construction in Rhode Island, bringing cost savings and emission reductions to the state. Additionally, the required electric readiness provisions will accelerate the transition to electrification, which is critical to meet the Act on Climate.”

For more information, contact:
Fil Eden, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903