Did you know that May 4 is National Skilled Trades Day? It also happens to be National Star Wars Day — “May the Fourth Be With You,” and all that jazz.

It seems like we have more “national” days to celebrate than ever before. Some are silly — like National Mimosa Day (May 16 in case anyone was wondering) — while others are more serious, like Memorial Day at the end of the month. I’d like to focus on a more serious cause in this month’s column: May is Building Safety Month, a time to recognize the importance of strengthening, repairing and modernizing our buildings and infrastructure.

This month marks the 42nd annual Building Safety Month campaign, led by the International Code Council (ICC) and its members and partners to raise awareness of the importance of building codes and the role building safety professionals play in ensuring our communities remain safe, sustainable and resilient. This year’s campaign theme is “Safety for All: Building Codes in Action.”

The event will feature four weeks of educational offerings, including webinars, Facebook LIVE and other digital resources. Week 1 (May 1-8) will focus on energy and innovation; week 2 (May 9-15) will cover building safety careers; week 3 (May 16-22) will address disaster preparedness; and week 4 (May 23-31) will focus on water safety. ICC will also host free virtual events during the month:

  • Tuesday, May 3: Tiny Homes and Affordability, 3-4 p.m. ET;
  • Tuesday, May 10: Career Paths for Military Veterans, 2-3 p.m. ET;
  • Tuesday, May 24: Backflow Basics: Repair & Testing, 2-3:30 p.m. ET; and
  • Wednesday, May 25: Pool Owner Safety 101, 2-3 p.m. ET.

Coincidentally, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced a request for information (RFI) to collect feedback from stakeholders to inform the implementation of President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $225 million in funding for improved building codes. This funding will help state agencies and partners improve the energy efficiency of America’s building stock through code upgrades that will ensure more efficient and resilient buildings. Reducing emissions from residential and commercial buildings is crucial to the DOE’s strategy for achieving President Biden’s goal of a 100% clean electrical grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

According to a study by the DOE, building energy codes represent a significant savings opportunity for U.S. homes and business owners. Model energy codes for residential and commercial buildings are projected to save $138 billion in energy cost savings; 900 million metric tons of avoided CO2 emissions; and 13.5 quads of primary energy from 2010 through 2040. These savings equate to the annual emissions of 195 million passenger vehicles; 227 coal power plants; and 108 million homes, per the DOE.

The deadline to submit a response to the RFI is May 20 at 5 p.m. ET. Click here to see the full list of questions and how to submit a response.

The bottom line is the federal government, along with state and local governments, has placed the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as one of its top goals to reach in the coming years. This is something that will impact all sectors of the economy, especially the MEP engineering industry. It's important for engineers and other plumbing and HVAC industry experts to step up to provide resources to aid government officials in making these type of informed, long-term decisions to create a more sustainable future. After all, who knows more about how to create a carbon-free future than the engineers who design our critical building systems and infrastructure?