Leveraging the Inflation Reduction Act: A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to advance energy codes

October 18, 2023 | Christy Bolognani, SWEEP Buildings Program Associate

Attention state governments! You have a historic opportunity to get free federal funding to update and enforce energy codes in your state – including direct funding for your staff – thanks to the Department of Energy (DOE) State and Community Energy Programs (SCEP) announcement last month. DOE is offering up to $400 million in formula grants to support energy code adoption and compliance, divided into two buckets:

  • $240 million to adopt and implement the latest building energy code (the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for residential buildings and the ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1–2019 for commercial buildings) or other codes with equivalent or greater energy savings.
  • $160 million to adopt and implement the zero energy provisions in the 2021 IECC, or other codes with equivalent or greater energy savings.

In addition to adoption and compliance, eligible activities include capacity building, workforce development, and code training. Many building departments across the country are facing critical staffing shortages, which have led to bottlenecks and compliance gaps. If this sounds like your state and the municipal governments who adopt and enforce the energy code, these funds are for you. 

In order to receive these funds, states MUST opt in by submitting a letter of intent (LOI) by November 21, 2023. Fortunately, opting in only takes a few minutes. The November 21st opt-in deadline is critical to unlocking this opportunity and is fast approaching. If an LOI isn’t received by this deadline, the state forfeits its eligibility for formula funds and there’s no going back. Once a state has submitted its LOI, it will have two years to develop an implementation plan and then another nine years to use the funds. If your state is even remotely considering using these funds, make sure to submit your LOI before the deadline!

Do you require assistance with meeting the deadline? There are ample resources available to make opting in quick and easy, including: 

  • Step-by-step instructions for drafting an LOI.
  • Optional LOI template provided by the DOE. (Note: Ensure that you check all the boxes for full eligibility, even if the allocation of funds is uncertain.) 
  • Administrative and Legal Requirements Document (ALRD) to guide you through the full application process.
  • Help filling out the template – reach out to Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) if you’re in the Southwest; for all other regions, reach out to your regional energy efficiency organization for more comprehensive guidance. We’re here to help each state secure its share before this remarkable opportunity expires.

SWEEP contacts:
Christy Bolognani, cbolognani@swenergy.org
Jim Meyers, jmeyers@swenergy.org
Christine Brinker, cbrinker@swenergy.org

Have specific questions about what to do with the funds? Contact the SCEP team at IRACodes@hq.doe.gov.