Maryland first to adopt 2012 code governing energy-efficient homes

Local governments were once content with distributing financial incentives to convince owners to voluntarily adopt tenets of energy-efficient homes and then refunding them for their green enhancements – but, not anymore. Many states, following the lead of Maryland, are prepared to require new homes be built to meet certain stringent energy efficiency requirements.

The 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) mandates that new homes reduce energy consumption by about 30 percent from the levels observed five years ago. USA Today reports that Maryland is the first, and thus far, only, state to require new homes meet the requirements of the 2012 IECC.

Homes must meet several new standards, including achieving higher standards for heating and insulation efficiency, passing an air infiltration test and having ducts tested to ensure no leakage exists.

Some municipalities, like Durham, New Hampshire and Houston, Texas have embraced this IECC, but not entire states, many of which still follow prior iterations of the code. Some homebuilders have expressed frustration with the 2012 code because it limits the types of homes that can be built and raises construction costs.

"This [2012 code] is a train wreck," Tom Marston, from consulting firm Energy Services Group, told the newspaper. "The industry in Maryland will be in a pickle. … I don't think the consumer today is that interested in energy efficiency."

Whether homeowners wait to achieve home energy efficiency by installing energy-efficient insulation and other similar products in their new homes, or they choose to upgrade their current properties, they should have the assistance of a professional on their side.

Maryland homeowners who want to keep up with their energy-conscious neighbors who are building new homes should request a home inspection from a local inspector. This D.C. home inspection company will analyze a home's energy consumption through an energy audit that will inform homeowners of areas they can improve.