St. Louis adopts building codes designed to boost energy efficiency in new homes | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis adopts building codes designed to boost energy efficiency in new homes

Jul 6, 2018

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Friday voted unanimously to approve several building codes for the city. The approved codes will establish standards for new homes.

The codes require St. Louis to adopt a number of national and international standards for energy use. These include new fuel and gas, electrical, and fire safety standards.

Gretchen Waddell Barwick, grassroots organizer for the Missouri Sierra Club, said these new codes will have an economic impact for city residents.

The new St. Louis building codes go into effect in August and do not apply to current construction.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

“Residential and new home buyers will save over $500 per year on utility bills,” Waddell said. “Homes will be more than 25 percent more energy efficient than if they were built to the code today.”

Energy audits

Updates to the amount of building insulation, requirements for energy efficient windows, and programmable thermostats were also included in the new codes. The new requirements will replace the 2009 International Building codes followed by the city.

“We’re going to have certified energy auditors coming into homes now when they’re first built to make sure that the building is performing the way it’s supposed to and that we’re doing what we’re promising people who are building homes,” Waddell said.

St. Louis Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed (left) poses with Ward 18 Alderman Terry Kennedy (right), Gretchen Waddell of the Missouri Sierra Club (center left), Building Commissioner Frank Oswald (top left), and others after signing the new codes into law.
Credit Missouri Sierra Club

The new codes were a compromise between the Missouri Sierra Club and the Home Builders Association of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri. Both organizations worked with city officials over the past year to establish the new codes.

Missouri an "odd duck"

St. Louis will be the first city in the Midwest to adopt these international provisions, but Missouri still is not up to the same standards as other parts of the country, Waddell said.

“Typically, other areas, they’ll have the entire state adopt the code,” Waddell said. “Missouri is somewhat of an odd duck in that we have municipalities adopt building codes.”’

Similar legislation was proposed for St. Louis County in 2015. Waddell said the county proposal lacked the same energy provisions now approved for the city. The bill has not moved forward with the St. Louis County Council.

Missouri Sierra Club sees the passage of new St. Louis building codes into law as a victory. They celebrated with cupcakes.
Credit Missouri Sierra Club

Not retroactive

The new city codes will take effect in August and will not apply to construction already using the old codes.

“Those people who’ve designed something under the old code and they’ve already been working with the plan reviewers, we go ahead and honor those meetings and we let them complete their existing projects under the old code,” said Frank Oswald, St. Louis building commissioner.

Any projects developed after early August will have to follow the new code, Oswald said.

Follow Chad on Twitter @iamcdavis