ICC Board Agrees with NAHB on Codes Appeal

Filed in Codes and Standards by on September 24, 2020 12 Comments

water heaterThe ICC Board of Directors Wednesday agreed with NAHB’s appeal related to a proposed change to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) that dealt with the efficiency of water heaters. NAHB and others argued, and ICC agreed, that the changes would have preempted federal law or would have exposed adopting jurisdictions to potential litigation related to the proposed requirements.

The ICC Board decided to reject RE126-19 (and RE107-19) on the basis that “potentially preempted provisions in the I-Codes is inconsistent with the spirit, intent and mission of the Code Council.” In addition to NAHB, the American Gas Association, American Public Gas Association and American Heating Refrigeration Institute filed similar appeals.

RE126-19 was a proposal submitted by the National Resources Defense Council that put additional requirements on water heating products. NAHB and the other appellants believed the requirements were inconsistent with the National Appliance and Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) by attempting to institute requirements inconsistent with federal law and would put ICC and adopting entities at risk of legal action should the proposed requirements be instituted.

While the ICC disagreed with one point in the appeal that its development process was violated, the Board did agree that incorporating requirements contrary to federal law would be problematic. Accordingly, the Board determined that the approved language from RE107-19 and RE126-19 will not be included in the 2021 International Residential Code (IRC) or IECC.

This was the first of three rulings by the Board on NAHB appeals. The final ICC Board decision on the last two appeals related to scope and intent and the codes development process and voting eligibility are expected around mid-October.

For more information about the codes appeals, contact Craig Drumheller.

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Comments (12)

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  1. Does anyone else see a problem with a code proposal being submitted by the National Resources Defense Council? Is the code intended to ensure a base level of safe and sound construction or a tool of special interest groups to force their agenda (or their latest products) down the throat of the general public no matter the cost?

    Is it any wonder the cost of construction keeps skyrocketing?

  2. Miguel Quinones says:

    Bill, as we face the harsh impacts of climate change in the West and the South, the long term implications of our short term actions must be considered.
    ” This code shall regulate the design and construction of buildings for the effective use and conservation of energy over the useful life of each building. This code is intended to provide flexibility to permit the use of innovative approaches and techniques to achieve this objective.”

    Pay special attention to the USEFUL LIFE and FLEXIBILITY. This latest version of the code is trying to incorporate requirements that will reduce energy consumption associated with transportation and allow the flexibility of switching over to electric use if the home owners want to go solar. The solar ready provisions already take care of some of that, but voters decided that more is necessary as the code has been stagnant due to NAHB and the outdated constraints of the NAECA and EPACT.

    The cost of construction has gone up because of higher materials costs, transportation costs, and higher labor shortages.

    • Bill Gschwind says:

      With all due respect, Miguel, you’re making my point. I’m not suggesting that your ambitions are without merit (no different than any other ambition), only that using the building code to promote aspirational goals misuses the code. Just as buyers of cars now and into the future can and will consider including such amenities as power windows and self-parking technology, those are options and not government edict. Many buyers may want the amenities, but just can’t afford them. Using the building code to dictate what amenities must be included in the home does increase the cost of the home and disproportionately and negatively impacts low-income and first-time home buyers taking away their dream of homeownership.

      • Miguel Quinones says:

        Thank you for a civic and respectful response. The problem with the so called amenities is that they have the intent to reduce Green House Gas emissions, lower operational costs, and protect the futures of said first-time home buyers and low-income residents. As building professionals we need to focus on lifecycle costs instead of initial costs as they don’t protect home owners for the duration of their mortgages.

        If the US actually subsidize subsidies for agriculture, coal, and gas, so can they subsidize better homes for low income residents. There are tools in places that can help lower the initial cost issues for low-income residents https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/lihtc.html

        • Bill Gschwind says:

          The response to high cost homes is not more government subsidies. It’s the reduction of cost-increasing government mandates. I appreciate my builder looking out for my best and long-term interests. I want that builder to offer me those options and their related costs. I don’t want my builder making those kinds of cost-increasing decisions for me. Educate, don’t mandate.

          • Miguel Quinones says:

            Agree on the education, of both the builders and home owners.

            On the topic of mandate, that’s for another day as we deal with obesity, heart disease, and COVID-19.

          • harold murray says:

            Bill, you got it right. The whole of ICC has become a political monster. I have been Chapter president for both ICC and ICBO prior to the merge. My fear over the merge was that ICC would become a tool of the politicians. With the move to D.C. that was an assured outcome. ICC is no longer concerned with simply giving solid governance for safe construction but now pushes to impose crushing expense to further political causes. Homeowners must be allowed to choose short term or long term outlay of their hard earned cash. The overreach of ICC is a big part of my leaving a career of 12 years in local government.

      • David W Altenhofen says:

        Mr. Gschwind, Aren’t the NAHB, American Gas Association, American Public Gas Association and American Heating Refrigeration Institute all special interest groups forcing their own agenda? I agree with your statement that the code should “ensure a base level of safe and sound construction”. I guess there is plenty of room to discuss what constitutes “safe” for our society. For me, saving energy is a reasonably goal for the safety of all society, just as minimum MPG for cars was judged to be good for all of society. There should be a cost/benefit analysis that focuses only on the general public or consumer. The cost/benefit for home builders or gas providers should be ignored.

        The devil does come down to the details.

        Thank you.

        • Bill Gschwind says:

          You’re stretching the definition of “safe” to fit an agenda. I hardly expect a house to burn down because it consumes too much energy. Many folks are more able to pay a little more each month in utility bills who don’t qualify to purchase the home with the energy-saving amenities built in. That’s a personal choice, though I imagine you might consider that a “dangerous” personal decision that “harms” society. My idea of a minimum safe and sound code allows for lots of personal choices that some might consider “socially irresponsible”.

          • David W Altenhofen says:

            You are correct, I have an agenda as does everyone else. Nothing wrong with having an agenda, it depends on the aim of the agenda.

            You did not address that NAHB, AGA and APGA all have an agenda of their own, as do you. What I hope for is that during the code revision decision-making process the agendas are out in the open, fully disclosed and transparent. Agendas for the benefit of trade organization should not be weighed as heavily in the process as the benefits of the public at large (IMHO), who of course do not have paid lobbyist to represent them.

            My idea of a safe and sound code provides for the protection of society at large. Deciding how far the code should go to protect society is a very difficult problem, how to balance personal choice against public good, how to balance cost versus benefit. What worries me is that society is not well represented in the current situation. Instead the code change process is dominated by special interest groups that represent their industries and can afford large marketing and lobbying efforts.

          • S S says:

            You’ll never win against the globalist liberal thinking of the what’s “judged to be good for all of society” crowd, but I appreciate and agree with your thoughts. Most don’t seem to care that a very large part of our vulnerable “front line workers, underprivileged, disadvantaged” or whatever term people want to use these days” population, here in the greatest of free nations, cannot afford the current definition of a “decent safe place to live”. Codes are voted on by special interests and code officials who have no real skin in the game (builders and the “public at large” have no say). Builders who would like to keep the cost of their homes down, unless the buyer wants and is willing and capable to pay for more, are left in the dust of “progress”.

  3. Craig Raymond says:

    The problem with this article is it really gives no specifics as to why the proposed code changes were so objectionable. Why not be specific and let people decide for themselves whether NAHB served our interest or not? I suspect it may have been a pretty solid decision if both NAHB AND ICC Board of Directors ultimately objected but why no solid and specific information in the article?

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