Utility Residential New Construction Programs: Going Beyond the Code

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Based on an evaluation of 10 residential new construction programs, primarily sponsored by investor-owned utilities in the United States, we find that many of these programs are in dire straits and are in danger of being discontinued because current inclusion of only direct program effects leads to the conclusion that they are not cost-effective. We believe that the cost-effectiveness of residential new construction programs can be improved by: (1) promoting technologies and advanced building design practices that significantly exceed state and federal standards; (2) reducing progra'm marketing costs and developing more effective marketing strategies; (3) recognizing the role of these programs in increasing compliance with existing state building codes; and (4) allowing utilities to obtain an "energy-savings credit" from utility regulators for program spillover (market transformation) impacts. Utilities can also leverage their resources in seizing these opportunities by forming strong and trusting partnerships with the building community and with local and state government.

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