New law aims to make Oahu’s new building projects more sustainable

Oct 30, 2023

Construction companies will now have to follow new rules when it comes to building a new home or building. A law recently went into effect that updates the existing Building Energy Conservation Code and creates specific rules that fit the local community.  

Mayor Blangiardi signed Bill 4, CD2 (2023) into law as Ordinance 23-25 in August. This means that whenever someone builds a new home or a commercial building in Honolulu, they will need to adhere to local amendments that make up Bill 4, including:

  • Eliminating the requirement for floor insulation in residential buildings;
  • Requirements for increased energy performance in exceptionally large homes, which enables market advancement of certain leading design practices and technologies;
  • The creation of an optional commercial stretch code to guide market leading developers in achieving advanced design and performance of grid-interactive commercial buildings;
  • Increased requirements for lighting efficiency to keep pace with fast-evolving LED lighting technology readily available on the market today; and
  • Maintaining the City’s previously established requirements for solar PV (residential) and electric vehicle (residential and commercial) readiness for new construction.

“We don’t see climate action and cost of living as ‘either-or’ strategies; we see them as interlinked and complementary,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi in a news release. “I am proud of the robust collaboration by our City team with industry stakeholders, who, working together, were able to advance these two key priorities in order to move us ahead on both fronts.”

Michael Colón, director, energy sector for Ulupono Initiative, added: “These codes should reduce overall energy demand of new construction and reduce the overall environmental impact from new buildings, while enabling more environmentally friendly options such as solar or electric vehicles without requiring expensive retrofits. In general, energy codes are a critical tool to protect life and safety in the face of increasing temperatures and health heat risks, deliver energy savings, lower utility bills, and reduce the environmental impacts of Oahu’s building stock.”

In 2020, Hawaii adopted the 2018 Building Energy Conservation Code. This national code establishes minimum requirements when new homes or commercial buildings are built in Honolulu. The policy covers energy efficiency and consumption and other mandates that help minimize energy usage to reduce the overall impact that new buildings have on the environment.

Maintaining the City’s existing baseline requirement that newly constructed parking stalls for newly constructed residential multi-unit buildings mean that projects that add eight or more new parking stalls must be electric vehicle charger ready for at least 25% of the added stalls. For commercial buildings that add 12 or more new parking stalls, at least 25% of them must be electric vehicle charger ready.

Read more about Bill 4 here.