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Philadelphia Adopts Modern Building Codes

June 1, 2018

Philadelphia approved the adoption of modern building codes on May 24, 2018.

All Philadelphians

In Philadelphia, buildings are responsible for over 60% of carbon emissions citywide. Modernizing building codes is a key strategy to ensure that the city reaches its goal to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050 to combat climate change. Per an analysis by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), adoption of modern building codes “provides the single most cost-effective and expeditious means of achieving reductions in energy-related GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions in the building sector.” In addition to helping mitigate climate change, the latest building codes ensure that new construction is safer and more resilient to the effects of climate change by specifying climate-appropriate building materials and construction practices.


Residential Tenants

The additional energy savings between the 2015 and 2018 Codes translates to lower utility bills for new multifamily construction or major retrofits. The opportunity for additional utility cost savings is especially important in Philadelphia, where low-income households are among the most burdened by the amount of household income spent on energy in the United States. 


Affordable Housing Developers

Modernizing codes will have a negligible impact on upfront cost for construction in this sector. Current projects are already subject to a competitive bid process for funding and the most competitive projects are already proposing designs that exceed the minimum required code.

Market-rate Multifamily and Commercial Developers

The increased efficiency and improved safety of built projects will bring Philadelphia up to speed with neighboring states and will deliver utility costs savings benefits to end users all at a marginal cost difference from the previous code edition.   

Building Owners

The increased quality and energy efficiency of new construction and retrofit projects can be marketed to residential and commercial tenants as cheaper to operate and more comfortable than buildings built to our current base code.

Practitioners in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction

Modern code adoption across Pennsylvania will require that those that design and construct buildings to train to ensure compliance with the changing requirements. Fortunately, many practitioners work on projects in neighboring states which have already adopted modern codes, easing the transition ahead. 

The 2018 International Building Codes represent an increase in energy efficiency of over 30% as compared to the current code. The Philadelphia City Council unanimously voted to approve its adoption, transforming the city into a nationwide leader.

What does this mean for you? See below for information from Green Building United outlining how the code change will impact you.

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