Building Energy Codes

Building construction
Energy Code Trainings
Interested in getting code training? The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) provides energy code education at no cost to building departments and stakeholders to support jurisdictions with adopting new codes. 
CEO is continuing its popular Wednesday webinar training series taught by Colorado's esteemed I-codes experts and trainers. REGISTER HERE for monthly webinars being offered through June 2022. Xcel Energy is also offering trainings on alternate Wednesdays, which you can register for here. If you miss a webinar, we record each training so that you can view it on demand. See a list of and links to each of our previously recorded webinars in our Energy Code Adoption Toolkit or watch the videos
In addition to the one-hour webinars, our codes experts also provide in-depth, customized trainings across the state. Customized training is available upon request; simply fill out this short form. Trainings can be scheduled for local government staff such as code officials, inspectors, and planners as well as other building industry stakeholders including builders, designers, engineers, contractors, and architects. 
I-Codes Technical Assistance
The Colorado Energy Office is offering free technical assistance for jurisdictions adopting either the 2018 or 2021 I-Codes. Customized for the needs of your jurisdiction, technical assistance can help you overcome common roadblocks to adoption such as lack of time to research and understand the new code language, estimating cost impacts, and gaining stakeholder support. To request technical assistance, please fill out this short form. If you have questions about the building I-codes, how to review or inspect for a measure, how the I-codes interact, or how to comply, you can submit a question to our free Code Helpline. Our subject matter experts will respond to you via email within two business days. 
We created an Energy Code Adoption Toolkit that includes a guide on the significant changes from previous editions of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) to the 2021 IECC, cost comparisons between code editions, examples of stretch codes from other jurisdictions, and code compliance checklists. CEO provides no-cost technical assistance to jurisdictions to support the adoption of new energy codes and code enforcement. Technical assistance can be customized to a jurisdiction's needs. Assistance may include:
  • A review of a jurisdiction’s current code and policies
  • Education for stakeholders about the major changes in new codes compared to the jurisdiction’s existing codes
  • Recommendations for proposed code amendments tailored to the jurisdiction
  • Subject-matter expertise to answer questions and address concerns about code-related issues, for example, in city council or county commissioner public hearings
  • A review of a jurisdiction’s existing building code implementation and enforcement policies and proposed changes that align with the new codes, as amended and adopted by the city or county. 

Energy Codes in Colorado

Colorado passed a law in 2019, House Bill 19-1260, that established a minimum building energy code. Effective August 2, 2019, the law requires local jurisdictions in Colorado to adopt and enforce one of the three most recent versions of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) upon adopting or updating any other building code. The state law notes that jurisdictions may make any amendments to the energy code that the deem appropriate for local conditions, so long as the amendments "do not decrease the effectiveness or energy efficiency of the energy code."

Colorado has no statewide building code; building codes are primarily adopted and enforced locally except where noted below.

  • The State Buildings Program, part of the Office of the State Architect is responsible for establishing minimum building codes for all construction by state agencies on state-owned or state lease-purchased properties or facilities.
  • The Colorado Department of Public Safety, Division of Fire Prevention and Control, adopts building codes for the construction of public K-12 schools and junior colleges.
  • The Division of Housing’s Building Codes & Standards Section, part of the Department of Local Affairs, enforces codes for manufactured homes built to HUD codes standards, adopts and enforces building codes for factory-built housing (also known as modular housing), and applies installation standards to all manufactured housing (including HUD, factory-built/modular). The Division also adopts and enforces building codes for site-built hotels, motels, and multifamily buildings in jurisdictions with no codes.

CEO has compiled a list of Colorado Building and Energy Codes by Jurisdiction. More than 2.7 million Coloradans, or 48% of the state's population, live in a jurisdiction that has adopted the 2018 IECC. More than 60 jurisdictions have adopted it so far, with many more in the process or under consideration. More than 4.9 million Coloradans, or 86% of the state's population, live in one of the 156 jurisdictions that have adopted a high-efficiency energy code—the 2018, 2015, or 2012 IECC. If you notice an error in codes by jurisdiction list or would like to notify the Colorado Energy Office of an update to your jurisdiction's codes, please email us.

CEO recommends that jurisdictions update their building codes on a regular cycle, typically every three years, which is how often the International Code Council updates its model codes. Incremental changes are much more manageable to adopt when codes are updated on a regular cycle as opposed to skipping several editions of the code. Failing to update building codes regularly can be challenging since there aren’t resources that compare much older codes to newer ones and changes add up when codes are updated more than a decade apart. The 2019 legislation also encourages jurisdictions to report to the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) any updates to their building and energy codes within a month of the change. CEO created this form for jurisdictions to report this information.

CEO is a member of the Colorado Energy Code Compliance Collaborative. The Collaborative consists of code officials, builders, energy raters, utilities, energy advocates, and other stakeholders who are interested in  working together to improve and advance energy code compliance in Colorado. New members are always welcome! For more information or to join the Collaborative, please see this fact sheet

Why Building Energy Codes are Important

Buildings account for about 40% of energy used in the United States and represent the fourth largest source of emissions here in Colorado. Building energy codes establish minimum construction or major renovation requirements that enable buildings to use energy more efficiently. But building energy codes do more than improve the efficiency of buildings; they also help ensure the safety, durability, sustainability, and affordability of homes and buildings in your jurisdiction. Based on building science and physics principles, life-safety aspects of the energy code include moisture management (avoiding mold, mildew, and rot), indoor air quality, increased fire protection, and protection during severe weather. 

Did you know that energy codes are the only building codes with a return on investment? That’s because building to newer energy codes pays building owners back by way of reduced operating and utility costs. The 2018 and 2021 IECC are cost-effective for both single-family and low-rise multifamily residential buildings in Colorado and results in a net-positive cash flow in year one.  According to a study from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the 2021 IECC "provides statewide energy savings of 8.6% across all climate zones compared to the 2015 IECC. This equates to $156 of annual utility bill savings for the average Colorado household. It will reduce statewide CO2 emissions over 30 years by 20,301,000 metric tons." 

Supporting the Energy Efficiency Workforce

The Colorado Energy Office, through a partnership with Energy Smart Colorado, provides partial scholarship reimbursements for individuals in mountain, rural, or other underserved communities in Colorado to maintain or obtain their Building Performance Institute (BPI), RESNET HERS Rater or Rating Field Inspector (RFI), or ASHRAE certifications through training, exams, or continuing education courses. Small grants or reimbursements are also available to BPI, RESNET, or ASHRAE-certified professionals to assist in the purchase, maintenance, calibration, or upgrade of energy testing equipment. This funding supports a geographically diverse energy efficiency workforce with a broad skill set, enables regional organizations to conduct residential and commercial building energy assessments to identify energy-saving opportunities, and empowers local governments to adopt advanced building energy codes.