Does Colorado have a new building code?
A new statewide building code seeks to encourage energy-efficient, electric-ready construction in Colorado—but some are concerned it could increase costs.
In June, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Colorado Energy Office released final versions of new statewide codes meant to ensure new buildings are more energy efficient and ready for electric vehicle plugs and solar panels. When updating or adopting new building codes, local governments must meet or exceed the new standards.
The new standards adopt the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code, which outlines rules for building efficient structures. They also contain new energy codes developed by a state board. These codes are meant to guarantee new buildings are constructed to accommodate solar panels, electric vehicle chargers, and home heat pumps without requiring extensive retrofits.
“Coloradans are excited about energy efficiency, electric vehicles, electric heating and cooling, and renewable energy,” said Will Toor, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office, in a statement. “With recent market trends and new state and federal incentives, these clean energy technologies have never been more affordable. Preparing new homes and buildings to support them will allow Colorado residents and businesses to take advantage of these opportunities, which will save them money on energy costs, reduce emissions, and improve air quality across the state.”
Home builders, including the Colorado Association of Home Builders, raised concerns the new rules would increase homebuying costs. Government officials said the increases in efficiency will help homeowners save money on reduced utility bills over the long term. An analysis from the U.S. Department of Energy found a statewide shift to the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code would save the average Colorado household $1,200 in energy costs.
The new rules were ordered by legislation supported by Gov. Jared Polis and passed in the state legislature in 2022. Under the same legislation, the Colorado Energy Code Board will soon start working on a “low energy and carbon code” set to take effect in 2026. Those talks could center on natural gas and its future in Colorado, as several municipalities have recently considered ways to discourage its use in homes. Crested Butte recently banned natural gas hookups in new buildings.