Stimulus Package Includes Grant Program to Enhance Building Code Enforcement

ARRA LogoHidden in the details of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is a large fund of available grant money to help building safety departments increase training and staffing as long as there is some relationship to energy code enforcement.

Any building safety department enforcing an energy code, including the International Energy Conservation Code, and those planning to adopt and enforce an energy code under other incentives in the ARRA, can apply for funds through a block grant program.

What does this mean to you? Because $1.36 billion per year, or a total of $2.72 billion over two years, is entitlement funding, any city or county that qualifies can receive funding to support its building code development and enforcement activities. The requirements to receive funding are simple and straightforward:

• Within one year of receipt of funds, eligible communities must submit a proposed Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy to the Secretary of Energy, who has 120 days to approve or reject the strategy.

• No more than 10 percent or $75,000, whichever is more, may be expended on administrative costs.

• No more than 20 percent or $250,000, whichever is more, may be used for sub-granting to non-governmental organizations for the purpose of assisting in implementation of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation strategy.

Municipalities with a population of more than 35,000, or are one of the 10 largest cities in their state, are eligible to receive funds through direct grants administered at the federal level. Smaller municipalities are eligible to receive funds through sub-grants administered at the state level.

The specific purpose of the building code development grants are outlined in Sec. 544(8) of the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007 (EISA): "Development and implementation of building codes and inspection services to promote building energy efficiency." This is a broad description and will allow building safety departments to apply for grant funds to help increase staffing and pay for training and testing equipment required by new code provisions.

One reason the block grant program has received less attention than other projects funded by the stimulus package is because the program is split between two bills: the EISA that authorized the block grants; and the ARRA that provides the funding for the grants—approximately $2 billion per year for 2009 and 2010. The funding will be split to provide 68 percent ($1.36 billion) for cities and counties, 28 percent ($560 million) for states with a requirement that at least 60 percent go to sub-grants to non-entitlement communities, and the remaining 4 percent to be split between tribal programs and a Department of Energy competitive grant program.

An annual report must be submitted to the Secretary of Energy not more than two years after funds are received, and include information on the implementation of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation plan and energy efficiency gains.

These Energy Efficiency Block Grants can be used by cities and counties for many different purposes. The Code Council strongly encourages its members to discuss the availability of these grants with their state, county and city leadership, and to work with them to secure funding to support energy code development, adoption and enforcement. Early conversations with your city manager or county executive will make your building department gets its share of these funds.

For more information on these grant funds, visit the Department of Energy website.


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