With Tools in Hand – Mainers Fight for Safe, Affordable & Comfortable Buildings

Buildings are our nation’s biggest energy guzzlers, using 40% of our energy and 70% of our electricity. As the nation makes strides to improve the energy performance of its building stock, one effective method of doing this is with building energy codes. Building energy codes play a central role in creating a sustainable energy future by significantly reducing building energy use and ensuring safe and affordable dwellings for its businesses and citizens. NEEP has had the opportunity to work throughout the region on the advancement of building energy codes and, over the past few years, we’ve been pleased to support seven states that have moved forward by adopting or updating their building energy codes. Unfortunately one state lags behind and thanks to ill-conceived legislation passed last year, Maine is the only state in the region moving backward on statewide building and energy codes. In June 2011, Maine’s Governor Paul LePage signed LD 1416 into law, effectively gutting the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code (MUBEC) and ignoring a need for consistent statewide building regulation. That means communities across the state can regulate the construction of buildings as much –or as little- as they choose. The safety and energy efficiency of a building could depend on which community you live in. Today communities under 4,000 are forced to opt-in to MUBEC and carry the added burden of local code enforcement and administration. MUBEC is a comprehensive set of codes designed to protect the safety and health of its citizens...it also protects their wallets. MUBEC matters to Maine because it reduces costs to consumers by ensuring buildings meet minimum standards for safe, healthy, energy-efficient construction; MUBEC also reduces building energy costs and the state’s dependence on heating oil. It is unacceptable that close to half of Maine’s population is not protected under MUBEC. To raise awareness about the value of statewide building energy codes and to help promote local adoption of MUBEC, NEEP and Consumers Union have partnered with Maine organizations (such as NRCM, GrowSmart, and Cool Communities) to create the MUBEC Community Action Toolkit. The MUBEC Community Action Toolkit was designed specifically for citizens of Maine who believe in their right to a safe, affordable, and comfortable home. Not only does the toolkit help raise awareness about the benefits of MUBEC, but it equips and empowers individuals with the tools they need to lead a successful grassroots campaign in support of MUBEC adoption in their community. The toolkit contains printable handouts on the value of MUBEC, a template power point presentation to raise awareness on MUBEC for use at local events and special town meetings, model ordinance language for a smooth adoption process, and even a template press release for sharing your town’s success upon adoption. The Toolkit also includes testimony from local businesses, citizens, and policymakers in support of MUBEC as well as an FAQ of frequently asked questions about MUBEC and debunks common code misconceptions. With spring town meetings just around the corner, we hope the MUBEC Community Action Toolkit will help small communities adopt MUBEC and generate the needed momentum to re-enact MUBEC as Maine’s statewide uniform building energy code. North Yarmouth and Monmouth have already adopted MUBEC locally. Who will be next? Download the MUBEC Community Action Toolkit today and learn about the importance of building energy codes and how to make the case for safe, comfortable, and affordable buildings.

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