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Builders urge State Building Code Council to adopt more flexible approach, preserve energy choice

September 1, 2023

OLYMPIA… Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) members and thousands of individuals concerned about the high price of homes in Washington are coming together to urge the State Building Code Council (SBCC) to reject high-priced energy code requirements, adopt a more flexible approach and preserve energy choice.  Join them in voicing your concerns.

At an upcoming meeting in Spokane, the council will consider modifying codes adopted earlier this year restricting natural gas in new construction. Those codes limit access to natural gas for cooking and heating, resulting in higher prices for new homes in Washington.

After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated the City of Berkeley’s natural gas ban, the council voted to delay code implementation to Oct. 29, 2023. The delay allowed them to consider revisions to better align with federal laws.

In the Berkeley decision, the court ruled the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act expressly preempts state and local regulations concerning the energy use of many natural gas appliances, including those used in household and restaurant kitchens.

“The code proposals before the council continue to make it too cost-prohibitive for homeowners and businesses to have the natural gas appliances many prefer and need,” said BIAW Executive Vice President Greg Lane.

BIAW’s representative on the council, an energy-efficient builder and Certified Green Professional, has proposed adopting the Energy Rating Index provisions from the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The proposal is under consideration by the council.

“The performance-based approach provides a better way for builders to meet energy efficiency goals while maintaining choice for homeowners and allowing flexibility to build homes in the most affordable way,” he said. “We urge the council to move forward with this performance-based approach.”

Upcoming meeting on energy codes

The SBCC will hear testimony and vote on the code revisions at its Sept. 15 meeting in Spokane Valley.

  • Date/Time:Friday, September 15, 2023 / 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Location:Center Place Regional Event Center – Room 109, 2426 N Discovery Place; Spokane Valley, WA 99216
  • Zoom:
  • Phone: 888-788-0099
  • Webinar ID:966 7858 8532

Performance-based approaches preserve energy choice

Builders in Washington have employed performance-based approaches to build high-efficiency homes in this state for decades. Performance pathways are already used to earn energy efficiency tax credits, making housing more affordable and preserving energy choice.

“Builders are already familiar with performance-based approaches to building,” Lane said. “They know how to balance preserving energy choice and meeting environmental and efficiency goals.

“Washington already has one of the most stringent energy codes in the nation,” he said. “We also have a massive unmet need for affordable homes. The SBCC should reject any and all proposals that limit flexibility and choice.”

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