December 7, 2022 | Lotte Schlegel

On December 7, the White House announced the performance targets for the federal portfolio of buildings and California announced that they are joining the National Building Performance Standards Coalition. The National BPS Coalition is a nation-wide group of state & local governments that have committed to inclusively design and implement equitable building performance standards and complementary programs and policies. These jurisdictions are working to advance legislation and/or regulation, with a goal of adoption by Earth Day, 2024.

Since the introduction of the coalition in January 2021, tens of thousands of people across the country have taken bold action to renovate our nation’s buildings to support us in the face of a changing climate. We are inspired by their dedication and work. Over the next few months, we’ll spotlight their stories – the community, government, and business leaders who are raising the bar for buildings. Here are the top things we’ve tracked since the Coalition’s launch.

38 state and local governments are now in the coalition. In April 2022, Montgomery County, Maryland became the latest Coalition participant to pass a BPS. This makes 10 U.S. BPS policies passed to date. All of these jurisdictions are staffing up and focusing on strong policy implementation. This means working with local business, explaining regulations to buildings owners, and standing up programs to help their communities improve the buildings in which residents live, play, work, and learn.

The State of Building Performance Standards in the U.S. as of December 2022. A map showing all of the jurisdictions (38 cities, counties and states) who have committed to passing BPS by Aril 2024.

High-performance buildings have lower utility bills, healthier indoor air, and can better withstand extreme weather, so we need these buildings in the places experiencing climate change first and worst. Community led policy making shifts power to communities to ensure that the benefits of policy have the intended impact. IMT and the People’s Climate Innovation Center formed Community Climate Shift to activate an aligned network of equity, environmental justice, and building decarbonization-focused organizations alongside the governments of the National BPS Coalition. We are making philanthropic funding available to organizations representing members of frontline communities situated within jurisdictions participating in the National BPS Coalition. This funding will support community engagement in building the policy and program strategies that will support communities and meet the government’s building retrofit ambitions. Examples include Portland, OR which continues to collaborate with the Build/Shift Collective on a proposal for HEART Standards for rental housing (Healthy housing, Equitable energy, Anti-displacement, Resilience, Temperature). See the story of Poder Latinx in Orlando to learn what this work looks like in the field. We continue to actively fundraise to expand participation.

Fewer than 2% of our buildings get an energy or climate related renovation in any given year in the U.S. – increasing this number represents tangible economic opportunity. IMT analysis projects as much as $124 billion cumulatively invested in building retrofits in Coalition jurisdictions through 2040. This is a great time to support local service providers and create new workforce development programs. Here is a story from Jamie Johnson in Chicago on why he’s built his business around the opportunities in building retrofits.

Governments at all levels are finding ways to move buildings of importance to the community—that serve, house and shelter the most climate vulnerable—to the front of the line for retrofit assistance. For example, hear a story of the Washington D.C.’s Building Retrofit Accelerator, which partners with the DC Green Bank and Sustainable Energy Utility to make improvements in multifamily affordable housing, houses of worship, and senior care communities.

These high-performance building hubs are focused on raising awareness and fostering connections among building decision makers. Hubs inform people who will need to update their buildings, and establish programs to support economic inclusion and opportunity in the local business community. Hubs hosted by organizations in St. Louis, Kansas City, Washington, D.C., and New York City are building with local industry to make it easier to act.

The federal government is making historic investments in infrastructure that can be accessed to support communities, homeowners, and people who work to build, renovate, or maintain buildings in the U.S. New funding is now available through legislation like the Infrastructure & Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and ongoing programs through agencies like the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Agriculture. Agencies across the government are making technical assistance and funding available for state and local governments and communities.

All coalition members recognize the role that building energy use plays in climate pollution and have a goal of improving the buildings in their communities to benefit their residents. Some, like New York City and Boston, are looking at ways buildings can maximize the use of renewable energy when it is available, and minimize use of fossil fuels by setting greenhouse gas emissions targets in the policy. In the process, they are learning a lot about what upgrades are needed in buildings and the significance for an entire city and electric grid. The rest of the Coalition governments can learn from their lessons to set policies that address emissions, energy use, resilience, and health metrics.

Once you set targets for all buildings, new buildings coming into service must be ready for the long run! Almost 20 jurisdictions within the Coalition have either adopted new codes this year or are in the process of updating their code.

Today, the federal government shared the implementation roadmap that they will take to improve federal buildings, which is significant because of the breadth of the portfolio – about 3% of the nation’s buildings! State and local governments are also taking steps to improve their schools, offices, and community-facing buildings. Read more about a net zero retrofit and re-purpose at a Denver federal campus.

The examples in these stories are just scratching the surface, and there is so much more to come! The coalition members and their local communities and businesses are just getting started. We all use buildings, and many more people will be part of building the solutions in participating communities. Share YOUR story! If you are taking action on building retrofits, please tag us on Twitter @IMT_speaks and LinkedIn as you share YOUR story.  Want to partner with IMT on more in-depth content? Connect with our communications team.

Program Area(s):

Codes , Community Engagement , Policy , Real Estate

Meet the Author

Lotte Schlegel

Former Executive Director

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