The Department of Ecology’s Climate Action Plan (January 2009) projects that energy efficiency and green building strategies applied to buildings could result in a reduction of 5.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (MMtCO2e) by 2020. SB 5854, adopted by the 2009 Legislature and signed by Governor Gregoire, attempts to set the state on that path.

It first provides that Washington State’s 2006 energy code preempts any less strict local energy code, and it directs the State Building Code Council to begin work on new energy codes that between 2013 and 2031 can move new homes and building to achieve an aggregate 70% reduction in energy use compared to the 2006 energy code. Finally, it requires disclosure of energy performance of non-residential buildings to prospective lenders, lessees and purchasers of the buildings, beginning in 2011. The hope is that knowledge will be power, and that as tenants, buyers and lenders of existing buildings learn the energy usage of existing buildings they will put pressure on owners and sellers to make the repairs and install the upgrades that will allow the existing stock of commercial buildings to reduce their energy demands.

Look for incentives for homeowners in future legislative sessions, as the state tries to reduce energy use in the existing housing stock.