City Updates Energy Code to Lower Energy Costs and Increase Efficiency
(TRANSLATION: Increase cost of construction to subsidize electric cars.)
News Release from Office of the Mayor, August 30, 2023
OʻAHU – Mayor Blangiardi signed Bill 4, CD2 (2023) into law as Ordinance 23-25 to update and improve the City’s Building Energy Conservation Code following City Council’s unanimous passage on Wednesday, August 9, 2023.
Energy codes establish minimum energy performance requirements for new residential and commercial buildings. Energy codes are a critical tool to protect life and safety in the face of increasing temperatures and health heat risks, deliver energy savings, lower utility bills, and reduce the environmental impacts of Oʻahu’s building stock.
“We don’t see climate action and cost of living as ‘either-or’ strategies, we see them as interlinked and complementary,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “I am proud of the robust collaboration by our City team with industry stakeholders, who, working together, were able to advance these two key priorities in order to move us ahead on both fronts.”
After the state adopted the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code in December 2020, the City had the opportunity to adopt the state’s code, with its own local amendments. Local amendments were developed in close coordination with industry experts, such as the American Institute of Architects and the Building Industry Association of Hawaiʻi, to ensure code requirements match Oʻahu’s specific market needs and context.
Local amendments that were adopted include:
- Amendments to the requirements of the national code to better fit Oʻahu, such as eliminating the requirement for floor insulation in residential buildings.
- Requirements for increased energy performance in exceptionally large homes, which enables market advancement of certain leading design practices and technologies.
- Creation of an optional commercial stretch code to guide market leading developers in achieving advanced design and performance of grid-interactive commercial buildings.
- Increased requirements for lighting efficiency to keep pace with fast-evolving LED lighting technology readily available on the market today.
- Maintaining the City’s previously established requirements for solar PV (residential) and electric vehicle (residential and commercial) readiness for new construction. (BINGO! Question: Is housing an emergency or not?)
“As we continue to make systems improvements and streamline permitting processes—including with a focus on residential rooftop solar—we’re excited to also advance and enforce policies that further support affordable living for residents,” said Dawn Takeuchi Apuna, director of the Department of Planning and Permitting.
(TRANSLATION: Further increase the cost of construction to subsidize solar industry.)
A building’s performance is largely determined by upfront decisions, so keeping the Energy Code current guarantees energy and cost savings through efficient design and construction. Once built, it is much more challenging to go back and retrofit a building to achieve the same level of efficiency.
“With buildings accounting for almost one-third of Oʻahu’s carbon emissions, regularly updating the City’s Energy Code to high standards is critical to the City’s and state’s goal of net negative carbon emissions by no later than 2045,” said Matthew Gonser, chief resilience officer and executive director of the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency. “It provides a significant opportunity to improve affordability and buffer against climate hazards we’re witnessing worldwide and experiencing right here in Hawaiʻi, such as increasing temperatures, drought, sea level rise, storms, and more.”
This update complements the City’s support to existing buildings’ efficiency efforts through building benchmarking (Ordinance 22-17) and unlocking existing federal resources and other financing methods. This Energy Code update implements actions of both the City's Oʻahu Resilience Strategy and Climate Action Plan. The City will continue participating in the State’s ongoing work on the next code update to 2021 International Energy Conservation Code.