Buildings and their construction together account for 35 percent of global energy use and 38 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions annually, according to the United Nations Environment Program. In the United States, residential and commercial buildings accounted for 40 percent of energy consumption in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In California, the most populous of the United States, the California Air Resources Board identifies the building sector as the second largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state, surpassed only by transportation.

The Building sector offers great potential to reduce GHG emissions. Recognizing the GHG emissions associated with buildings, building efficiency standards and standardized building codes have been developed to reduce energy use and associated emissions. Locally mandated “stretch” or “reach” codes require even greater levels of energy efficiency than the state building code. Other local building codes place limits on the embodied energy of building materials. Together, these local codes reduce both energy use and GHG emissions from the design, construction and operation of buildings.

A number of states, including California, Oregon, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Vermont, and Rhode Island allow local stretch or reach codes to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and reduce building related GHG emissions.

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