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New energy efficient building standards could be adopted in Minnesota

New commercial and large multifamily residential buildings in Minnesota could be held to progressively stricter energy-efficiency standards in coming years.

Sponsored by Rep. Jamie Long (DFL-Mpls), HF831 would require Minnesota to adopt and maintain the latest version of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers' energy code, which is published every three years.

The next version is slated to come out in 2022.

Labor committee hears HF831 02/23/21

The bill would require the state to amend the code as necessary to achieve a standard that is at least 8% more efficient than each prior edition. By 2036, energy use in a new building would need to be offset by the amount of renewable energy that building produces.

New energy codes wouldn't apply to single-family homes or buildings that have already been constructed.

The bill was approved Tuesday by the House Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee on a party-line vote and referred to the House Climate and Energy Finance and Policy Committee. It doesn't have a Senate companion.

Buildings are responsible for over 40% of energy use in Minnesota, according to the Department of Labor and Industry. They are also responsible for a significant portion of the state's greenhouse gas emissions.

Long said the legislation could help the state get back on track to meeting its greenhouse gas reduction goals. Others said increasing building efficiency leads to lower energy bills, cleaner air and water and more construction jobs.

Supporters also say the bill would give developers a clear idea of what to expect for at least the next 12 years when it comes to the state energy code.

To date, 11 cities in Minnesota, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth and Rochester, have supported the bill.

Rep. Joe McDonald (R-Delano) asked Long if he agrees that a state mandate is unnecessary because the market should incentivize such efficiency upgrades if they save money.

Long said upfront costs can sometime make developers hesitant to add such features.

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