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Court denies request to delay building code implementation date

March 8, 2024

A Thurston County Superior Court judge denied a motion to stay, or suspend implementation of the state’s costly new building codes today.

The ruling allows the new building and energy codes to go into effect as scheduled next Friday, March 15, even while their legitimacy remains undecided, effectively banning natural gas in new construction.

Despite the ruling from Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy, the underlying state challenge brought by the Building Industry Association (BIAW) and others remains.

In the motion to suspend implementation of the new codes, group argued the codes are already two cycles ahead of the legislature’s goals for energy efficiency, so there’s no rush to implement them and cause further uncertainty and added costs to housing construction.

“Today’s ruling defies bringing common sense to Washington’s building codes,” said BIAW Executive Vice President Greg Lane. “Despite this, our association will continue our efforts to support policies that will provide housing that more Washington families can afford.”

Underlying challenge to state’s costly new building codes

On Jan. 23, 2024, the coalition filed a second amended petition for declaratory judgment asking the Court to invalidate provisions of the state’s new building and energy codes.

The petition alleges the Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC) violated the state Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), the Regulatory Fairness Act’s requirement for a small business economic impact statement, and the Administrative Procedures Act(APA).

“The SBCC overstepped when it approved these far-reaching new energy codes effectively banning natural gas,” said Ashli Tagoai, General Counsel for the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW). “We maintain that the SBCC does not have the authority to implement Governor Inslee’s environmental agenda through building and energy codes.”

BIAW and the others asked the Court to:

  • Declare the SBCC’s code amendments invalid.
  • Declare null and void its actions during the November and December meetings as violations of the OPMA.
  • Award the coalition its costs and fees.

The state of Washington has filed a Motion to Dismiss the Open Public Meetings Act claim. This motion is scheduled to be heard on Friday, April 5, 2024.

The court has not yet scheduled additional hearings on the case.

State legal challenge background

In February 2023, BIAW and others filed a state lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court. This lawsuit alleged the SBCC violated state rulemaking laws in approving the costly new codes restricting the use of natural gas and propane in new residential and commercial construction in the first place.

That lawsuit had been on hold because the SBCC delayed code implementation until March 15, 2024. The delay allowed the council to address other legal challenges they faced in federal Court.


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