CASA Code Initiative (CCI)

Background

Updating the building codes is far and away the most important step we can take to implement energy efficiency and the reduction of greenhouse gasses. This was the result of the 2008 Green Building Summit held in Albuquerque in April and has been stunningly reinforced by three separate reports issued this spring that reinforces the urgency of "greening" the building sector to reduce greenhouse gases and increase energy efficiency.

The Tri-national Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), established to build cooperation among the NAFTA partners in implementing the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), concluded that promoting green design, construction, renovation and operations of buildings could cut North American carbon dioxide emissions more deeply, quickly and cheaply than any other available measure.

In March of this year, Hotter and Drier: The West’s Changed Climate, released by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the National Resources defense Council (NRDC) and drawn from 50 scientific studies and 125 other government and scientific sources, documents that the west is being affected by climate change more deeply than any other part of the U.S. outside of Alaska. This report likewise concluded that building efficiency that lowers building emissions will have a larger impact than any of the other sectors including vehicle efficiency, industrial efficiency and renewable electricity.

And, finally, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has made public its findings of a survey of the actual consumption of new green buildings designed through its LEED program that documents efficiencies of an average of 30% reduced energy consumption, 35% - 50% CO2 reduction, 35% - 50% water use reduction and 50% - 90% waste reduction.

The answer to meeting this challenge lies with revising the building codes. Every new building and major remodel project is subject to conformance with the codes. They are the lifeblood of building design and where they were originally developed primarily to prevent fire and protect occupants from structural failure; their mission needs to be expanded to include increasing energy efficiency, water use reduction, waste reduction and further increasing occupant health through the use of non-toxic materials and construction methods.

Purpose

Recognizing the profound implications that global warming and climate variation could have on the economy, environment and quality of life in the Southwest, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, signed Executive Order 05-033 on June 5th, 2005, establishing the New Mexico Climate Change Action Council and the New Mexico Climate Change Advisory Group (CCAG).

The Executive Order outlined an aggressive plan to Reduce NM Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
• To 2000 levels by 2012
• 10% below 2000 levels by 2020
• 75% below 2000 levels by 2050

Subsequent Executive Orders reinforced this position and he also directed the Construction Industries Division (CID) to develop and implement Green Building Codes to meet these targets. Little progress has been made to date to achieve these targets

A recent report issued by the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department in December of 2008 outlines various policy options for a NM Energy Efficiency Strategy. Option 5 calls to upgrade the Building Energy Codes by 20% in 2010; 30% in 2013; 40% in 2016 and 50% in 2019 relative to new homes and commercial buildings meeting the current 2006 codes.

The purpose of the CASA Code Initiative is to facilitate the implementation of these codes.

CASA Code Initiative

In our discussions with various State officials it has become obvious that the State has limited resources available to begin a serious process of code development and implementation. The CASA Code Initiative (CCI) has been designed to work in cooperation with the Construction Industries Division (CID), State agencies and all sectors of the building design and construction community to develop and adopt a series of green building codes over the next several years designed to meet or exceed the Governor’s targets.

The CCI has a 3-pronged Strategy:
• State Agency Involvement
• The Code Development Program
• The Political Plan

State Agency Involvement:
Key to development and adoption of green codes is the involvement of State agencies particularly the CID which has the legal responsibility of recommending to the Construction Industries Commission (CIC) codes that are to be adopted as the State standards. CASA is seeking to partner with the CID to act as facilitators in bringing together all affected parties in the building community to achieve a consensus code that can be brought forward for adoption. We are also recommending that CID designate a staff position that is entirely devoted to promoting green codes and who will also act as a liaison with CASA and the building industry.
A further effort will involve the expansion of the CIC to include more representation from the design community. Currently only one architect position supports the entire industry and excludes representation from mechanical, electrical engineers and code experts.

The Code Development Program:
The current method of code adoption is based upon the CID reviewing the latest version of the International Building Code (IBC); the International Energy Efficiency Code (IECC) and other related codes to amend them for New Mexico. This process must remain in place as it is dictated by the enabling legislation that established the CIC and CID.

The CASA Code initiative will expand the involvement of the building industry through a series of code workshops and subsequent task forces that will write amendments to achieve a series of energy reduction goals. We will include all sectors of the design and construction community along with technical advisors from around the country who have been working on green code development and who will help guide us through this effort. The resulting code amendments will be brought to the Technical Advisory Committees (TACs) to the CIC for adoption as the process exists.

The Political Plan:
To achieve our goals it is important to have the support of elected officials, legislators and regulators at all levels of the government. We will need the involvement of allied organizations and their lobbying arms to assist in gaining this support.

Conclusion

The CASA Code Initiative is the most significant undertaking the building community can take on its own behalf to further the move towards more energy efficient and healthier buildings. The advancement of green buildings also will have a profound effect on job creation. We need to develop new green industry and train our workforce. Every indication is that this is the wave of the future and the CCI will position New Mexico to be a leader as we move forward.


CASA develops the CASA Code Initiative

  1. CASA develops the CASA Code Initiative – a two year program to facilitate the adoption of a progressive Green Building Code in New Mexico. A response to the challenge of raising greenhouse gases and industry consensus.
  2. This long-term project will use Governor Bill Richardson’s Executive Order (05-033), to reduce current GHG emissions to 2000 levels 2012, increase to10% by 2020, and increase to 75% by 2050.
  3. A three-pronged strategy will include: State Agency Involvement, A Code Development Program, and a Political Action-Plan.
  4. This initiative will establish a task force that creates a partnership with the NM State Construction Industries Division; the agency responsible for proposing of all building codes for adoption.
  5. This effort is based on the evidence from actual energy consumption drawn from a recent survey of USGBC LEED For Building Program of significant reduction in, CO2 by 35%-50%, as well as an average of 35%-90% reduction of water use in surveyed buildings.
    Click Here to Read More >