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Fort Collins launches stronger energy efficiency building codes and EV-ready requirements

State legislature considers two bills to establish similar standards statewide to meet its state goal of getting 940,000 EVs on the road by 2030

Denver—With only days left in the Colorado legislative session, advocates are calling on the legislature to follow in the actions of the City of Fort Collins last month and pass two House Bills (HBs) that would strengthen clean building codes across the state.

The bills, HB22-1218 and HB22-1362, follow Fort Collins City Council, which adopted the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code, strengthening energy efficiency requirements for single-family, multi-family, and commercial buildings and adopting stronger requirements for electric vehicle (EV)-charging infrastructure in new construction.

The installation of EV-charging infrastructure such as the conduit, pre-wiring, and electrical panel capacity, is up to six times less expensive when the infrastructure is installed during the initial construction phase as opposed to retrofitting existing buildings with new electrical equipment. 

“Personally, when I looked at upgrading from a level 1 to a level 2 charger for my Nissan Leaf, it was going to cost me $1,900 just to run the wiring from my panel to the detached garage. Even with a $500 rebate from Xcel, that’s still $1,400 out-of-pocket when it costs a fraction of that, like $100 to $200, to do it at the time of construction,” said Southwest Energy Efficiency Project’s (SWEEP) Senior Transportation Associate Matt Frommer. “It’s even more expensive for residents of multi-family buildings, where it can cost up to $6,000 to run a wire to your parking space, and that’s before you even buy an EV or the charging station itself.”

Fort Collins is a “GoEV City,” having committed to 100-percent zero-emission transportation by 2050 and has long been a municipal leader on electrification. The updated codes adopted last month set standards for building electrification by addressing key areas like electric space and water heating, solar ready, and improved energy efficiency. The EV codes require EV-ready in new homes and level 2 EV chargers in new commercial buildings. The new codes intend to future proof new construction by requiring conduit and pre-wiring across a higher percentage of parking spaces to allow residents and businesses to install EV charging stations at low-cost in the future. Fort Collins joins 16 other local governments in Colorado in adopting EV infrastructure requirements for new buildings. 

According to a report commissioned by the Colorado Energy Office, the state will need roughly 500,000 new EV charging stations in a mix of homes, businesses, shopping centers, and highway rest stops to meet its state goal of getting 940,000 EVs on the road by 2030, the level required to tackle the state’s ozone pollution and meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets in HB19-1261.

Global automakers such as General Motors, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo have announced plans to phase out the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035 or 2040, so Fort Collins’ action future-proofs new buildings with the infrastructure to support EV adoption.    

Fort Collins’ updated regulations come as Colorado is considering two separate bills that would set statewide standards for building electrification and EV parking requirements in certain areas. HB22-1218 proposes establishing EV parking requirements in new commercial and multifamily housing of a certain size. A second bill, HB22-1362, introduces model codes around building electrification alongside a grant program for high-efficiency electrical heating equipment. These bills would bring the rest of the state to a comparable level of energy codes and EV requirements. 

Both bills are currently being heard in the final days of the state legislature.

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