Board Committee Evaluates Options for Energy Rating Incentive Program
May 7 – City staff will draft a proposal with updated qualifications for an incentive program designed to promote the construction of energy-efficient residential homes, following a recommendation from a city council committee on Thursday.
The Norman’s Home Energy Rating System/Energy Rating Index pilot program was implemented in July 2018 to encourage energy-efficient home building by providing credits to builders who exceed home energy code minimums. It has been renewed five times and is due to expire on June 30.
The program’s initial benchmark score was set at 65 and updated in 2021 to 51 to reflect current energy code trends.
From July 1, 2021 to April 30, 2022, there were 263 applicants to the HERS/ERI program. Twelve homes have received certificates of occupancy and none of those dozen have met the program’s benchmark score of 51. The number of applicants currently registered is 251.
The program credit is 14 cents per square foot of project area. Achieving the benchmark score of 51 means the builder pays 50% of the permit fee. The builder does not pay any permit fees with a score of 41 or less.
A state-level recommendation of 64 as the statewide minimum is currently in the Oklahoma legislature. The current Texas standard is 59, according to a staff presentation at Thursday’s meeting.
At a business and community affairs meeting on Thursday, city building official Greg Clark said city staff would draft a proposal to continue the program with an updated baseline of 57. He said said the city would have to exceed Oklahoma’s benchmark to be attractive as a way to cut costs. and incentivize to do more than the state standard.
The new benchmark would still incentivize doing more than the bare minimum to comply with the state and exceed the Texas standard, Clark said.
Letting the program expire to see if the statewide recommendation passes this fall would mean more time to collect data points.
A second option is to keep the benchmark at 51, which is consistent with the 2015 and 2021 codes, and is a more efficient benchmark than the state’s recommendation.
Most committee members supported the idea of continuing the program, but changing the benchmark to 57 while increasing the duration of the pilot program to 2 years to ensure a larger sample of participants in the next reassessment period.
“If it costs us nothing to do it and it’s an optional program, I say we keep it,” Ward 5 Councilor Rarchar Tortorello said. “The cost of energy is not that high in Oklahoma and relatively cheap compared to our neighbors, but I think every time we save for the future and every innovation we consider can come from Oklahoma, especially Norman, I think that benefits us all.”
Ward 8 Matt Peacock said it was important to ensure the scheme progresses in a way that will ensure that an investment in energy efficient building materials provides a worthwhile incentive for builders. As the benchmark number for efficiency decreases, the cost of materials to reach that number increases.
Jeff Elkins covers business, life and community stories for The Transcript. Reach him at [email protected] or @JeffElkins12 on Twitter.