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1/26/2024 Speaker Shekarchi, Sen. Gu celebrate the move toward modernized, energy-efficient building standards
STATE HOUSE – House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi and Sen. Victoria Gu praised the Rhode Island Builders Association for helping to address the statewide housing shortage while reducing greenhouse gas emissions at their training in East Providence Wednesday.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, this was the first industry-based workshop in the country to train residential home builders on the 2024 International Energy Conservation Codes, which will make new and remodeled homes significantly more energy-efficient and enable smoother transitions to solar, heat pumps and EV charging in the future.

 “This is a testament to the hard work of the Rhode Island Builders and their partners to create best practices,” said Speaker Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick). “Rhode Island is a great example of how industry, environmental advocates and workforce development can come together to achieve workable solutions to climate and housing goals.”

Last year, Senator Gu (D-Dist. 38, Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown) sponsored the legislation (2023-S 0815) that set Rhode Island on track to be among the first states in the nation to adopt the 2024 IECC codes.

“Modernizing our building standards will pay off for Rhode Islanders for years to come,” said Senator Gu. “Not only will they lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions in our state, they will also save new homeowners and all occupants of new buildings money on utility bills.”

According to a White House fact sheet, by adopting these latest codes, the average new homeowner in Rhode Island will save $814 annually -- or 18.5% on their utility bills. The codes achieve this by setting minimum efficiency standards for a structure’s walls, floors, ceilings, lighting, windows, doors, and air leakage, as well as requiring electric-readiness for the first time in new construction. 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. For example, for a new home to be solar-ready, the builder must reserve space on a south-facing roof for solar, ensure that the roof can support the weight and leave space in the electrical panel for solar or any other new technologies the homeowner later want to add.

“I am proud to see the work we did last session already put Rhode Island at the cutting edge of green building standards,” said Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln). “By putting these standards into practice, the Rhode Island Builders are starting us on the path toward alleviating our housing shortage, lowering homeowners’ utility bills, lowering climate emissions and future-proofing Rhode Island’s housing stock against the challenges of tomorrow.”

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 mandates of the Act on Climate.

The RI Office of Energy Resources (OER) was also in attendance. OER is expected to receive about $5.5 million in federal funding from the Biden-Harris Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act to assist states in adopting these codes.

Members of the National Association of Homebuilders came from across the country to provide the training.

For more information, contact:
Tristan Grau, Publicist
State House Room B20
Providence, RI 02903