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SBCC continues assault on energy security

November 29, 2023

New rules ignore hundreds of pleas and federal law

OLYMPIA…The Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC) today moved forward with new rules the building industry and others call an assault on energy security and a violation of federal law.

“Despite hundreds of messages urging the council to reject these restrictive new laws, the Building Code Council moved forward with a de facto ban on natural gas in new homes,” said Greg Lane, Executive Vice President of the Building Industry Association of Washington. “These new rules clearly continue to violate the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which expressly preempts state and local regulations concerning the energy use of many natural gas appliances.

“The rules also harm the thousands of families struggling to find homes they can afford along with the back-up heating source natural gas provides,” Lane said. “This assault on energy security is unfair and unnecessary.”

BIAW Past President and State Building Code Council representative Daimon Doyle spoke out against the new code but the council ultimately voted to move forward. Watch his comments here:


Assault on energy security

Natural gas plays a significant role in providing affordable energy for heating, cooking and powering various appliances that are essential to the quality of life for thousands in Washington. In fact, roughly 1/3 of the households in Washington rely on natural gas to heat their homes.

“Removing natural gas as an affordable energy source in new homes will add strain to Washington’s power grid, making power outages even worse for new homeowners without a back-up heat source,” Lane said.

Ignoring federal law

The SBCC’s decision moves Washington’s energy code further out of compliance with federal law.  As an alternative, BIAW urges policymakers to consider scrapping the 2021 code cycle and move straight to the 2024 cycle, already underway at the national level.

“Washington is already on track to meet energy code targets,” Lane said. “The SBCC itself already reports we’re on track to surpass the incremental targets to reduce energy use in buildings by 70% by 2031. It will reduce confusion and give builders and homeowners more opportunities to take advantage of tax incentives to reduce costs overall.”

What’s next

The new energy codes approved today are scheduled to take effect on March 15, 2024, though the state legislature could pass legislation to pursue a different course of action. A lawsuit brought by BIAW and others against the state in February remains in Thurston County Superior Court. A different group of plaintiffs filed suit in federal court in May and moved to voluntarily dismiss that case earlier this year without prejudice, pending today’s action.


In September, the council voted to modify previously adopted codes and delay implementation until March 2024.

The vote came after Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated the City of Berkeley’s natural gas ban because of federal preemptions.

Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) members and thousands of individuals concerned about the high price of homes in Washington have been urging the SBCC to reject high-priced energy code requirements and adopt a more flexible, affordable approach.


The Building Industry Association of Washington is the voice of the housing industry. The state’s largest trade association with nearly 8,000 member companies, BIAW promotes and protects the vitality of the building industry so more Washington families can enjoy the American Dream of owning a home.  Learn more at:


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