Conservation of Energy and Water Use in State Buildings

July 18, 2023


Senate Bill 668 of 2007 and Senate Bill 1946 of 2008 established several policies intended to reduce the amount of energy, water and other resources consumed by the State government in their buildings and facilities. These standards apply to all new buildings owned by the State, the University of North Carolina, and the North Carolina Community College system, which are larger than 20,000 gross square feet. Also included are renovation projects when the cost is greater than 50% of the insurance value and the project is greater than 20,000 square feet. These projects must be designed, constructed and certified to exceed the energy efficiency requirements of ASHRAE 90.1-2004 by 30% for new buildings, and 20% for major renovations. Additionally, new buildings must consume 20% less potable water than the North Carolina Plumbing Code requires, and 50% less outdoor water than typical facilities using conventional systems.

Existing buildings purchased by the State must also meet certain energy and water conservation standards. Buildings purchased by the State must meet whatever State law or local ordinance was in effect during the time of its construction. Buildings having historic, architectural or cultural significance, however, do not have to meet this standard.

These bills go further than similar standards adopted by other states by also making conservation requirements for existing state-owned buildings. No later than December 31, 2009, all existing State-owned buildings were required to make specific lighting upgrades including the replacement of standard exit signs with ones that utilize LEDs and the replacement of incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Existing buildings were also required to install faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads, and adopt other methods to reduce either outdoor or indoor water consumption by 20% relative to a 2002-2003 baseline. When replacing HVAC equipment in an existing building, the specifications of the new system must be reviewed to ensure it is properly sized. Replacement motorized equipment must meet minimum performance standards established by the National Electric Manufacturers Association. And, when purchasing new office equipment and appliances, the new equipment must be Energy Star certified.

The bills also refined a previous requirement for State buildings in total to reduce their energy consumption per square foot by 20% by 2010 and 30% by 2015 relative to energy consumption levels during the 2003-2004 fiscal year. To help meet this goal, The Department of Administration through the State Energy Office will develop a comprehensive program to help State agencies and State institutions of higher learning manage their consumption. This will include a requirement for the use of life-cycle cost analysis during the design phase to consider site orientation, the amount and type of fenestration and the potential for daylighting, the amount of insulation used, variable occupancy and operating conditions, and architectural features that affect the consumption of water, energy and other utilities.

Program Overview

Implementing Sector: State
Category: Regulatory Policy
State: North Carolina
Incentive Type: Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Web Site:
Start Date:
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
  • Comprehensive Measures/Whole Building
Green Building Requirement: Projects must be designed, constructed and certified to exceed the energy efficiency requirements of ASHRAE 90.1-2004 by 30% for new buildings, and 20% for major renovations


Name: N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143-64.10 et seq.
Date Enacted: 8/31/2007
Effective Date: 8/31/2007
Name: N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143-135.35 et seq.
Date Enacted: 8/8/2008
Effective Date: 8/8/2008

This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.