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BIAW’s building code proposals increase flexibility and protect housing affordability

April 18, 2022

BIAW has proposed two changes to Washington’s Residential Code to increase flexibility and protect housing affordability. With the price of new homes in Washington continuing to rise, the BIAW is offering solutions.

Flexibility in meeting energy efficiency requirements

One proposed change allows builders of new construction to use simulated performance alternatives to demonstrate a home meets or exceeds required carbon emission reductions and the energy rating index in the state’s residential energy code.

The prescriptive code is useful for some builders. However, builders who specialize in high-efficiency building/green/net-zero building should have this opportunity to design and build homes that still meet (or exceed) the code.

Allowing builders to follow a simulated performance pathway gives them the flexibility to use or expand their technical knowledge. It simultaneously allows them to consider the overall costs to the home buyer.

Exemptions for costly in-home EV charging stations

The other proposed change exempts certain dwellings from the requirement for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The proposal applies to new single-family homes, duplexes and townhomes with attached private garages. And it only applies if it will cost more than $1,500 per dwelling.

Legislators passed HB 1287 passed during the 2021 session. Now state law requires electric vehicle charging capability in all new buildings with on-site parking. The law requires rules for residential units built under the International Building Code (R-3 occupancies) to be implemented by July 1, 2024.

According to NAHB, adding a single Level 2 circuit for an EV charger costs about $600-650 to the consumer on average. And this doesn’t include the cost of the charger/connector.

The price will be higher for homes where the electric panel is located more than 50 feet from the charging receptacle. Costs are also higher when the electric panel or electrical infrastructure on the utility side needs upgrading. Homebuilders report that when utility-side infrastructure upgrades are required to meet load demand, upgrades can cost up to $20,000 per project.

The State Building Code Council will consider these proposed changes to increase flexibility and protect housing affordability in the fall.

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