Adopt Higher Energy Building Standards
Adopting higher energy building standards is an important first action step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Our buildings last 40, 50, even over 100 years, so future generations will be impacted by how we construct our buildings today. In order to avoid locking our buildings into decades of carbon intensive use, ambitious building codes can be a tool to reduce carbon emissions, promote better health, and improve the efficiency and longevity of our built environment.
In Minnesota, building codes are standardized throughout the state, limiting the local community’s power to implement more ambitious standards. While we can advocate statewide for “stretch” codes that build off of the statewide code or establish incentives for building beyond code requirements, municipal governments can adopt internal standards for government buildings and projects receiving general obligation funding.
When the Duluth Citizens’ Climate Action Plan was first released this action was to ask the City to adopt the Sustainable Buildings 2030 Energy Standard, an initiative to make all newly constructed and renovated buildings carbon neutral by 2030, for all municipal buildings and publicly funded projects. The good news is that the City has done so! In November 2021 the City enacted the Building Owner Performance Requirements Policy, which raised building standards for City-owned buildings beyond the state mandates and improved energy efficiency. The City is also working to install energy efficient technologies in all city-owned buildings, including updated insulation, windows, lighting, building controls, EV charging, and more. Although the City does not have the power to mandate higher standards on residential and commercially owned buildings until the state changes its standards, we should continue contacting state representatives and push them to improve state building standards.
To complete this action, thank your city representatives for implementing higher sustainable building code standards and support their continued advocacy at the state level. Individually, you can voluntarily adopt higher building standards or talk to your building contractor about their building practices when building or renovating.
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