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Building industry victories at State Building Code Council last week

October 18, 2021

With unprecedented supply chain issues compounding the challenges of new Washington state energy code (WSEC) and legislative requirements, BIAW has been busy working with the Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC)  to alleviate some of the pain. We’re happy to report a few building industry victories at the last SBCC meeting last week.

Heat pumps

While the home building industry attempts to comply with the 2018 WSEC-Residential Code requirements, the HVAC industry reports challenging supply chain shortages. Challenges range from unpredictable heat pump delivery times to increasing costs up to $6,900. Gensco, the main distributor and manufacturer of HVAC products for the five-state Pacific Northwest region, has more than 20,000 HVAC heat pump units on backorder.

In response to this shortage, BIAW submitted a request to the Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC) on Oct. 14 for an emergency rule addressing heat pump availability.

At its meeting on Oct. 15, the SBCC adopted the following emergency rule:

  1. Builders: For 120 days, if builders install interior components of heat pumps, you will still receive full credit (1.0 credits) for that system.
  2. Building Officials: Building officials must grant temporary certificates of occupancy even if the outdoor compressor component of the heat pump system is not yet installed (with the understanding that the builder will install once the product arrives).

Despite some heat pump inefficiencies, home owners will still receive heat when they move in with these partial systems. We’re hopeful this directive will alleviate any discretion code officials might take to avoid granting temporary certificates of occupancy within your jurisdictions.

BIAW provide an update once the SBCC releases its official emergency rule order.

*Please let us know the impact this has on your homeowners as they move into their homes.

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Last session, the Legislature passed HB 1287. The bill requires builders to install electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in residential R-3 occupancies. While the SBCC has been working to include EV charging infrastructure language in the state building code, council members and staff disagree on what is authorized within the text of the bill and what is purely legislative intent.

As a result, the SBCC voted to ask the Legislature for clarification. Due to this lengthy process, BIAW anticipates no movement on EV charging infrastructure language until after the 2022 session. This buys the industry time to weigh-in on any proposed language.

Per the bill, EV charging infrastructure rules shall be implemented by July 1, 2024. Based on proposed language to date, BIAW anticipates one- and two-family dwellings and townhomes with attached garages will be mandated to install a minimum of 40-ampere dedicated 208/240-volt branch circuit. However, dwelling units without garages will not be impacted. BIAW is exploring language that exempts homes that would require cost-prohibitive infrastructure design on the utility side of the electrical meter.

For building code questions and suggestions, please contact Andrea Smith at or 360-352-7800 ext. 114.

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