Minimum Housing Code Weatherization Ordinance

Minimum Housing Code Weatherization Ordinance

Burlington, Vermont’s Minimum Housing Code is designed to ensure that rental properties are also properly weatherized to keep tenants warm in the winter, cool in summer, and reduce costs, while helping the city achieve its net zero energy goals.

What is the Minimum Housing Code Weatherization Ordinance?

The Minimum Housing Ordinance is designed to ensure that rental properties are also properly weatherized to keep tenants warm in the winter, cool in summer, and reduce costs, while helping the city achieve its net zero energy goals. The comfort and energy efficiency of some Burlington rental buildings can be improved by increasing insulation levels, reducing excessive air infiltration, and addressing other thermal performance issues.  Tenants pay space heating costs directly in about 85% of Burlington’s rental units, about 60% of Burlington’s residents are renters and about 95% of rental buildings use natural gas for space heating. Burlington is home to many beautiful rental buildings, but many were built decades ago without proper attention to weatherization features. 
The purpose of the Weatherization Ordinance (WxO) is to promote the wise and efficient use of energy in rental dwellings (including multi-family, single-family and condominiums) by mandating weatherization requirements (in high energy use buildings) through the Minimum Housing Ordinance which is enforced by the Department of Permitting & Inspections (DPI).  Technical assistance and incentive packages may be available to help property owners meet these requirements.

The official Ordinance document contains more details including compliance, current applicability, definitions, compliance cost-caps, waivers, enforcement, and penalties. The full amended Ordinance document can be at: update to the Minimum Housing Code to include weatherization and energy efficiency in rental properties

What is weatherization?  What does it entail? What kind of work must be done to the building?

Weatherization is the process of sealing up drafts to prevent the loss of heat or conditioned inside air to the outside. The most effective weatherization practices include blower door directed air sealing (work is typically done in attics and basements) and then adding insulation in available open cavities and other areas such as, flat attics, slopes-slants, knee walls, exterior walls and basement box sills and walls). The WxO does not require window or heating system replacement work.  The WxO follows the best practices available to Vermonters from the VGS weatherization program, the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program and the Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program.

Does the Ordinance apply to all residential rental properties?

No. Once fully implemented, the WxO only applies to high energy use rental buildings where the total space heating usage (all the apartments combined) is above 50,000 BTUs per total conditioned square foot per year (50,000 BTU/SF/YR). In mixed commercial/residential rental buildings, WxO only applies to the residential rental portion of the building.

Typically, buildings that use more than 50,000 BTU/SF/YR (for space heating) are good candidates for meaningful weatherization upgrades.   For example, a building that is found to be uninsulated, and with excessive air leakage, can easily use more than 100,000 BTU/SF/YR.  In contrast, a new building, built to exceed Vermont’s required energy efficiency code, can use under 25,000 BTUs per square foot. 

How will I know if my building needs to comply?

DPI will contact all property-owners who will need to comply.  DPI will use the normal communication channels that are currently used to provide Code compliance information to rental property owners.  The WxO is being implemented in four-annual stages that will determine when a building needs to comply: 

  • Stage 1- All residential rental building using 90,000 BTU/SF/YR, or more, need to come into compliance by January 1, 2022
  • Stage 2- All residential rental building using between 70,000 and 89,999 BTU/SF/YR need to come into compliance by January 1, 2023
  • Stage 3- All residential rental building using between 60,000 and 69,999 BTU/SF/YR need to come into compliance by January 1, 2024
  • Stage 4- All residential rental building using between 50,000 and 59,999 BTU/SF/YR need to come into compliance by January 1, 2024

What are the steps to compliance?

To comply with the weatherization components of the Minimum Housing Code, you are first required to hire a BPI-certified contractor (Building Performance Institute) to conduct an energy audit.

This contractor will identify steps to bring your building into compliance including air sealing and insulation.  These steps will be provided to you in a report.  (Please note, a BPI contractor must perform the energy audit to access the current utility rebates. A BPI-contractor must also perform the eventual weatherization work). Visit Efficiency Vermont for a list of BPI-certified contractors.  

The second phase of compliance requires that a BPI-certified weatherization contractor complete the steps outlined in the audit report. Please note: Most BPI-certified auditors can also perform the recommended weatherization work. Contractors will provide you with a cost proposal that incorporates utility rebates.

When the weatherization work is complete, your BPI-certified weatherization contractor will submit the rebate application to VGS, or to BED if your building is not heated by natural gas. Fifty percent (50%) or up to $7,500 of these costs could be covered if your property is 4 units or less. For multi-family homes over 4 units please contact VGS at or BED at


  1. The city recognizes that long waiting lists currently exist for both qualified weatherization contractors and utility incentive programs.  Temporary waivers can be granted if the owner can document that they are formally on a waiting list with a BPI contractor or a utility program.
  2. All required weatherization work must be completed by qualified BPI contractors who are normally in the business of air sealing and insulating buildings. Work will not be accepted by non-BPI contractors.

What happens if property-owners do not complete the necessary work within the required timeline?

DPI will issue re-inspection fees and fines unless an extension or temporary waiver is granted by DPI.  Again, please be aware that there may be a several month backlog for both audits and weatherization work; therefore, we suggest starting the process as soon as possible.

Where can rental property owners get more information?

DPI and BED will regularly update their websites to provide further information and resources to property owners. Property owners are also welcomed to send questions about the Weatherization Ordinance to our Energy Services Team.