Delaware Legislature Considers Higher Energy Efficiency Standards

Date: June 3, 2009

On May 12, 2009, the Delaware State Senate passed Senate Bill No. 59, which is intended to update the Delaware Code for Energy Conservation presently found at 16 Del. C. §7602. The proposed amendment would require all new, detached, one and two story family dwellings and all other residential buildings three stories or less in height to meet the "most recent version" of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) adopted by the International Code Counsel. The IECC establishes minimum design and construction requirements to foster energy conservation through efficiency in envelope design, mechanical systems, and lighting systems, and through the use of new materials and techniques. As proposed, this legislation will cause the Delaware construction industry to jump from the IECC 2000 to the IECC 2009, bypassing several interim iterations. If adopted, the new law would also require all commercial and high-rise residential construction to comply with similar energy standards published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA).

In addition to the IECC requirements and perhaps more ambitious, Senate Bill 59 also proposes that the Delaware Energy Office establish programs to promote the construction of zero net energy capable homes. Zero net energy capable homes are commercial buildings or residences that annually, through the use of energy efficient construction, lighting, appliances, and on site renewable energy generation, use no more energy than they produce on site, i.e. zero net energy consumption from utility providers. The proposed law will require that all, yes all, new residential building construction in Delaware be zero net energy capable by December 31, 2025, and all commercial building be zero net energy capable by December 31, 2030.

The proposed legislation has been forwarded to the Energy Committee of the Delaware House of Representatives for consideration. A summary of the status of Senate Bill 59, with links to its text in various formats, can be found here.