Building Efficiency

The following publications and presentations released by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project related to Building Efficiency:

  • Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) position on clean hydrogen
    January 2023 -

    With the passage of federal legislation in 2022, there is significant funding and renewed interest in the potential for clean hydrogen to contribute to climate solutions. In SWEEP's work to promote energy efficiency, electrification, and other clean energy solutions to climate change in the Southwest states, we will be involved in decisions regarding potential new hydrogen projects in the region, and investments in the Department of Energy’s proposed clean hydrogen hubs. SWEEP sees the potential of green hydrogen to contribute to the United States and regional climate goals, if its production and use are prioritized properly. We think it is important to maximize the wise use of renewable electricity resources — for direct use as electricity, or to produce green hydrogen for difficult to decarbonize fuel uses. SWEEP does not support the production of other colors of hydrogen, including blue, with some potential caveats discussed in this position paper.

  • Benefits of heat pumps for Southwest homes
    May 2022 -
    Updating the analysis the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) conducted in 2018, this report demonstrates that as heat pump technology has steadily improved over the past five years, so have the benefits and cost savings provided to homeowners, renters, homebuilders, and installers. Across the Southwest states, interest in heat pumps has grown sharply in recent years, driven by new awareness of how this technology’s cost-effectiveness, efficiency, improved performance, safety and reliability, and zero-carbon capabilities makes it a superior method for heating and cooling homes and businesses when compared to gas-powered systems and appliances. Heat pump and heat pump water heater models in production today can readily and affordably supplant central air-conditioners and gas furnaces in millions of Southwest homes.
  • Benefits of heat pumps for Colorado homes
    February 2022 - SWEEP's updated study of the benefits of heat pumps and heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) for Colorado homes, about 85% of which currently use gas for heating. Gas prices have increased significantly in the last six months, and as a result heat pumps and HPWHs are now much more cost-effective than they were only one or two years ago. In addition, heat pump and HPWH performance and availability have continued to improve.  
  • All-Electric New Homes & Buildings in Colorado
    All-electric new homes are a small but growing trend catching on across Colorado. Often marketed as “net-zero energy homes” rather than all-electric, these homes offer several notable benefits, including improved on lower asthma rates, no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or explosions from gas leaks, and a much smaller carbon footprint compared to homes that use gas or propane for heating, hot water, and cooking. In addition, the all-electric home’s costs, comfort, and cooking performance can be the same or slightly better. We surveyed home builders from across Colorado, in particular searching out those that have built all-electric homes and buildings in the last year or so, to find out the state of the market. We uncovered several new examples from different parts of the state – including large master-planned developments, custom-built single-family homes, a multifamily complex, and a pre-k-12 rural school.
  • Building Electrification: How Cities and Counties are Implementing Electrification Policies
    All-electric buildings have been around approximately 150 years. Building electrification is the process of moving from fossil fuel-powered buildings to electric powered buildings. Systems within the building, such as space heating, water heating, cooking appliances, and laundry, would be powered by electricity and would use highly efficient technology such as electric heat pumps and induction stoves. These are necessary steps for buildings to achieve 100 percent clean renewable energy and align with state and municipal climate goals. This report explores how building electrification can be accomplished and includes adoptable code language based on 12 case studies.
  • Technology Brief: Deep Retrofit of Multifamily Housing
    December 2019 - A new SWEEP technology brief provides a case study of a Deep Retrofit of Multifamily Housing program in Utah. This program is achieving significant reductions in energy usage in multifamily housing while promoting the large-scale adoption of high efficiency heat pumps and heat pump water heaters (HPWHs). Over 4,000 heat pumps and HPWHs were installed as of October 2019.
  • Energy Codes in Colorado Jurisdictions
    November 2019 - November 2019 - A survey of which version of the energy code has been adopted by each local jurisdiction in Colorado. Colorado law requires that they update to at least one of the three most recent versions of the energy code upon updating any other building codes.
  • Smart-Tech Housing Developments In The Southwest: Grid-Integrated and Energy Efficient
    September 2019 - The report, Smart-Tech Housing Developments In The Southwest: Grid-Integrated And Energy Efficient, explores eight housing developments in Arizona, Colorado and Utah that are demonstrating that all of the recent advancements in digital communications and smart devices can work seamlessly with the electric grid and provide multiple benefits not only to homeowners in these developments, but also to home builders, the environment and to the local utility and all of its customers.
  • Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings: Providing Energy Demand Flexibility for Utilities in the Southwest
    August 2019 - A new report by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project entitled "Grid-Integrated Buildings: Providing Energy Demand Flexibility for Utilities in the Southwest" provides a summary of the residential and small commercial grid-interactive building demand-side management (DSM) programs at the major utilities in the Southwest, highlighting existing programs in the region that are using grid-interactive buildings (GEBs) as a resource to help with the integration of variable renewable generation and to provide other grid services that create value for customers. The report highlights programs in this region that are at the forefront of utilizing GEBs to provide value to the grid.
  • Technology Brief: Air Sealing In Multifamily Buildings
    June 2019 - Improving air sealing is an important strategy to reduce energy waste in buildings. Across much of the U.S., air leakage testing in single-family homes has become an established practice for residential new construction ever since the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) was published. Yet the more complex practice of air sealing in multifamily buildings hasn’t yet become a common practice due to limited code enforcement by building departments and concerns about whether tighter air sealing is achievable in these buildings. This new SWEEP Technology Brief dives deeper into the doability of the practice by looking at a case study from Utah.
  • Best Practices for Conducting Energy Code Compliance Studies
    January 2019 - To find out if buildings are actually meeting the requirements of the energy code, states and utilities conduct energy code compliance studies. Recruiting buildings to the study -- in a timely and cost-conscious manner -- is critical to the study’s success. Based on extensive experience, this report details how to approach and work with building departments, contractors, designers, raters, commissioners, and more based on their own needs and priorities.
  • EV-Ready Building Codes: Preparing new buildings for EV charging stations. How to put electric vehicle charging in your residential building code:
  • Home Energy Rating Variability Study
    September 2018 - Home energy ratings are experiencing a growing role in energy code compliance. HERS Raters, in particular, often provide third-party verification services for minimum and above-code programs, including traditional compliance pathways contained in the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), and more recently the Energy Rating Index (ERI) pathway. In recognition of this trend, the U.S. Department of Energy commissioned a study exploring the consistency and replicability of the HERS system, and in anticipation of HERS Raters assuming a greater role in energy code compliance. Study Highlights: Data was collected by the Regional Energy Efficiency Organizations (REEOs) under direction of the U.S. Department of Energy; the Study was designed to assess variations in ratings for new houses by sampling homes in each REEO region for a total of eleven homes in geographically dispersed locations across the U.S.; the study was conducted as a blind study to ensure unbiased results, and; no individual identifying information was disclosed in order to ensure privacy and confidentiality of those contributing to each rating. For questions, please contact Nancy Kellogg at
  • Is it Possible to Build a Zero-Energy Ready Home without Breaking the Bank?
    July 2018 - Getting to zero isn’t actually that difficult, based on building science, ENERGY STAR, and newer energy codes.
  • Heat Pumps in the Southwest:
  • Five Trends and Observations in Energy Codes – Colorado Edition
    May 2018 - Every one of Colorado’s 333 local jurisdictions is responsible for adopting its own local building codes, giving us a picture of how energy codes are perceived, considered, adopted, amended, and enforced across different parts of the state. Here are five trends we’ve seen shaping the status of our energy codes in Colorado so far in 2018.
  • Energy Codes are Life Safety Codes
    March 2018 - Energy codes help improve a building’s durability and structural integrity, as well as protect occupant health, through specifications for moisture management (preventing mold, mildew, and rot), proper air flow, and protection from extreme storms. Energy codes are not just a “nice to have.”
  • Affordable Energy for All: A Plan to Expand Energy Efficiency Benefits for Low-Income Salt Lake City Residents
    August 2017 - A new report completed by SWEEP’s partner Utah Clean Energy recommends ways that Salt Lake City can expand energy efficiency improvements in low-income housing. The report reviews current low-income energy services and provides five recommendations for steps the city can take to increase the number of low-income families that benefit from home energy retrofits. The report was requested by Salt Lake City and prepared through U.S. Department of Energy funding that SWEEP provided to Utah Clean Energy.
  • Pro-Benchmarking is Pro-Business: And Here’s Why
    February 2017 - This three-page primer explains how benchmarking helps businesses save money and make smarter investment decisions.
  • Top 9 Reasons to Update to a Newer Energy Code
    February 2017 - This easy-to-read two-page briefing details how newer energy codes are clearer and better written, offer more flexibility for builders, allow advanced building technologies and techniques, yield better compliance, work together with other model codes, and lead to better-built buildings.
  • Multifamily Energy Efficiency Retrofits: Barriers and Opportunities for Deep Energy Savings
    December 2016 - This product of the Regional Energy Efficiency Organizations (REEOs) was developed to help inform national stakeholders about the strategies that have been used to achieve deep energy savings in the multifamily housing sector through energy efficiency upgrades.
  • Commercial Building Benchmarking Programs in the Southwest
    September 2015 - Owners, managers and tenants are making their commercial buildings more energy efficient and saving millions of dollars on utility bills in the process. Good jobs in the building trades are being created, and communities are reducing air pollution. This report provides a brief overview of national trends and benefits, then details initiatives in each of the Southwest states.
  • Energy Code Implementation: A Planning Guide for Building Departments
    April 2013 - This guide provides advice and a case study for municipal planning departments to use when phasing in updated building energy codes.