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In its tri-annual meeting next week, the International Code Council (ICC) will vote on proposals that will have an impact the energy efficiency of homes, schools, churches and businesses all over America. Homes and buildings produce almost half of all greenhouse gas pollution in the US, using over 75% of the electricity that power plants generate, which makes this vote one of the most significant energy policy decisions of 2010.

If  ICC adopts a code that makes new buildings 30% more efficient than  2006 levels by 2012, the council will help the country take an important step forward in meeting global warming challenges, conserving our natural resources, and saving consumers money.

According to Camellia Watkins, Sierra Club National Building Energy Codes Campaign Director, "Simply by voting to improve building energy efficiency, the ICC members will do more in one week for America’s greenhouse gas emission goals than Congress has done this entire year."

ICC members, consisting of county, state and city building and fire code officials from across the country, will meet in Charlotte, NC for voting on a series of proposals for increasing the energy efficiency of new buildings. More efficient homes, schools and offices will cut down demand for energy from dirty sources like coal, which take part in climate change through carbon emissions and pose a threat to local communities with toxic by-products such as coal ash.

"It no longer makes sense to power our buildings with sources that create toxic waste when clean alternatives like efficiency exist," stated Emily Fischer, Environment America Clean Energy Advocate. "Next week in Charlotte, local officials have the opportunity to lead the charge towards a more sustainable energy future and away from toxic energy sources like coal and oil."

Improving energy efficiency of buildings also makes sense economically. With the 30% Solution 2012, homeowners will spend less on electricity bills with average savings of $260 per year, despite higher startup construction costs. Low-income Americans can particularly benefit from a reduction in electricity bills, and energy efficient homes will lower barriers to homeownership for them.

"High utility bills negatively impact low-income families the most; lower energy costs mean lower utility bills that in turn can keep people in their homes," stated Mary Luevano, Policy and Legislative Director for Global Green USA. "In California, developers use title 24, which is much more stringent than the current model energy code. Global Green has assisted many of California’s production builders and affordable housing developers to not only meet Title 24 but exceed the code by as much as 45%. Clearly, any arguments about higher costs should be thrown out the window."

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