NAHB Formally Challenges Some Recent Building Codes Vote Results

Filed in Codes and Regulations by on March 3, 2020 13 Comments

Masked criminal holding ballot paper casting fake vote at a polling station for election vote in black backgroundNAHB sent a letter Feb. 14 to International Codes Council (ICC) President Dominic Sims urging the building codes body to carefully reevaluate the validity of many approved voting officials, to reject two specific proposals as not meeting the intent of the energy code, and to reform some of its voting processes while retroactively reconsidering proposals that should not have been on the final ballot.

The results from the 2019 Online Governmental Consensus Vote, to determine 2021 building codes proposals, included several irregularities and discrepancies, specifically proposals for the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

Some aggressive energy efficiency proposals that had been defeated at prior committee hearings and public comment hearings were approved in the online vote. When proposals are defeated at hearings, they must get a two-thirds majority to overturn past results. It’s a bar so high, no previous proposal had ever met the threshold with the online vote. But in this code cycle, 20 IECC proposals cleared the hurdle and came back to life.

NAHB is asking the ICC to set aside the results for these 20 proposals and to revise its code adoption process to clarify that the Public Comment Hearing results are considered the Final Action for proposals that were disapproved at both the Committee Action Hearings and the Public Comment Hearings.

Two of the 20 proposals were also, in NAHB’s view, clearly outside the intent of the IECC. These proposals require the addition of electric vehicle charging outlets and the installation of electric outlets where gas appliances are installed that can be used for future electric appliance replacement. Neither proposal increases energy efficiency. NAHB is asking that they be rejected regardless of the outcome of the previous request.

The 20 IECC proposals that were approved after being previously defeated appeared to have been overturned with significant support from hundreds of new voters in the online vote. And the new voters were added late in the code cycle.

In 2019, only minor updates occurred to the ICC Member Directory after two deadlines on March 29 and Sept. 23. At some point between late October and Dec. 19, 2019, however, there was a major update that added roughly 209 newly validated Governmental Members to the roster, totaling about 1,345 new Voting Representatives.

NAHB is concerned about the eligibility of many of the new Governmental Members. The letter to ICC includes an attachment with names of specific local government agencies and departments whom NAHB is asking the ICC to re-evaluate. Once that reassessment is completed, the online vote results should be retallied, excluding and the votes of any GMVRs who do not meet the current bylaws.

As a leading participant in crafting the I-Codes, NAHB and its members have a significant interest in retaining the rigor, credibility and legitimacy of the code development process in order to create building codes that are enforceable and provide safe, energy-efficient and affordable homes. The ICC must acknowledge the irregularities of the most recent online vote and take steps to remedy the results and ensure the validity of the process.

For more information on the building code development process and builders’ role in it, visit the Code Development page on nahb.org or contact Craig Drumheller.

Comments (13)

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  1. Ron Jones says:

    What a fortunate coincidence for NAHB that Drumheller sits on the ICC Validation Committee. Who would have guessed? Seems strange that it wasn’t reported in the story.

    • NAHB Now says:

      The Validation Committee is comprised of professionals experienced in the code development process. NAHB and Mr. Drumheller meet this expectation. He represents one vote on the committee.

      • William Fay says:

        I don’t believe Mr. Jones was questioning NAHB’s or Mr. Drumheller’s qualifications. The question is whether anyone from NAHB should be sitting on a committee passing judgement on an NAHB charge that 209 state and local governmental members from nearly every state in the nation were ineligible to cast votes that NAHB didn’t like. Qualified judges are often recused due to real or perceived conflicts of interest or lack of impartiality.

        • NAHB Now says:

          As a member of the Validation Committee, NAHB’s number one concern is the integrity of the process – as should anyone involved in ICC’s code development process.

          If there is a motion within the Validation Committee that NAHB, along with consultation with ICC staff, feels there is a clear conflict of interest, we will react accordingly.

  2. S says:

    Finally some push back against the continuous onslaught of overbearing building code politicization and creep! Why don’t contractors/builders get a seat at the table in code votes?

  3. Thank you NAHB for continuing to hold ICC responsible for the accuracy and integrity of this voting process. It seems that “Politics” enters into all facets of our lives these days. Governmental Officials with no expertise in these matters should not be voting on these proposals.

    I agree “Public Comment Hearing results are considered the Final Action for proposals that were disapproved at both the Committee Action Hearings and the Public Comment Hearings.” Please keep us posted on what we can do as a large group of us want to help overturn these seemingly “under the Radar” actions.

  4. Harold Murray says:

    As a former Building Official and Past Chapter President who sat in on the code consolidation that brought the ICC into existence, my worries and concerns about a national group headquartered in D.C. were well founded. I commented at the time of hearings that a National group would become an arm of the Federal bureaucracy . The building code has historically be to provide fire and life safety not to make financial decisions for builders and developers. The energy code meets none of the traditional intent of the building code. The Energy Code is one chief component of the high cost of housing and building in general. It should be abolished and ICC should remove itself from the political games that use the Codes as pawns to further a cause not related to fire and life safety.

  5. Steve says:

    Thank you NAHB. As a Building Official I am sick of special interest groups, especially energy and fire fanatics, unethically influencing the building codes.

    • R says:

      Might want to consider the old adage “the pot calling the kettle black”.

      There is a tendency to use the term “special interest” in a negative or derogatory way but it mostly depends on whether you agree or disagree with a differing point of view.

      There is no better example of a special interest than the home building industry and their trade associations. Does that make you sick as well?

    • S says:

      I am so glad to hear this coming from a building official. Most building officials I know seem to enjoy the increasing complicatedness of the code, and the entrenchment of their jobs and more gov workers under their control. My hat is off to you. And, I ask again, why do builders not have a seat at the voting table? Thanks NAHB for letting me know we at least have seats on the committee, but as large of a constituency we builders are and that is bound by legislation and rules by others we should be able to vote directly on the changes to be made.

  6. Thom says:

    If everyone who wanted to vote had to remove their business attire and display their true clothing, would those folks who vote still vote the same?

    I know that higher energy requirements come from industry that benefits directly and not because its financial justified, but it serves my clients’ need to sell more product.

    If people cared about reducing energy use in housing, you would mandate improvement to older homes which is the majority of homes. Focusing on the 1% to be built is not where real change occurs.

    If we want new homes more efficient ask buyers to decide with their purchasing power. Forcing builders to install efficiency measures that have no value to the buyer means buyers discount the feature and leaves builders paying the freight.

    There are many above code voluntary programs that demonstrate truly efficient performance. If Government wants or needs more efficient housing, provide incentives to buyers to purchase those homes and let code function as is was designed, “least allowable by law”.

    Let’s fix the barriers that prevent real change. Appraisal value does not recognize efficiency measures, lending guidelines do not incorporate positive cash flow from energy savings vs. added mortgage payment. Why not? Fit these measures and see how buyers react. If they don’t want efficiency, making others pay for it will ensure the death of affordable housing.

    The auto industry has learned that most folks buy efficient cars when gas prices spike. Until then pick up trucks are what Americans want. Change the cost of energy in this country and perhaps new home buyers will change their buying habits as well.

    • Harold Murray says:

      Lets not invite the Government to change fuel prices either! Let the market, i.e. the home owner, decide whether it is better for them to pay for their budget to finance efficiency over the life of the home or pay a little more each month. Add that 5-10K to your home at 3.5% not a big deal but I recall 9% rates. NO bargain in that bin.

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