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Fight for common sense in the latest building code updates by Nov. 22

November 20, 2023

Time is running out to fight for common sense in the latest building code updates.  BIAW members have been urging the State Building Code Council to address inconsistencies and confusion in the residential energy code as well as the wildland urban interface code for months.

The most recent Call to Action encourages the council to scrap the 2021 codes for this cycle and move forward to adopt the 2024 codes approved by the International Code Council. Here’s why:

  • The code requires too many energy credits for compliance. This stifles the ability to build homes families can afford.
  • The modifications still result in a de facto ban on natural gas. It’s three times more expensive to comply with this code using natural gas.
  • Access to natural gas not only ensures energy choice for homeowners; it’s vital for energy security. Washington’s winter storms often cause electricity outages. Natural gas provides a reliable back-up heating and warm water source to stave off cold temperatures.
  • There’s no state mandate for SBCC to reduce carbon emissions through code. Energy Equalization Credits are emission credits in disguise.

Bottom-line: The new version of the Residential Energy Code still violates federal law and makes building undersupplied housing units more expensive.

Why skip the latest building code updates?

With so little time before their December 1 deadline for adoption, it only makes sense to stay on the 2018 Energy Code, skip the latest building code updates and move on to rulemaking for the 2024 codes.

  • We’re already on track to meet energy code targets. The SBCC’s report shows we’re surpassing incremental targets on the path to reducing energy use in buildings by 70% prior to 2031.
  • Builders and remodelers can take advantage of tax credits available under the Inflation Reduction Act when complying with the 2024 codes. Modified codes such as ours don’t meet the requirements for these credits, leaving money on the table when it comes to saving new homeowners money.
  • Allowing builders to stay on the 2018 codes and then adopting the 2024 codes reduces confusion for everyone. By the time the 2021 codes go into effect, there will be less than 18 months before it’s time to implement the 2024 codes.

Your chance to fight for common sense in the latest building code updates

The Washington State Building Code Council has scheduled two public hearings this week. We encourage you to provide individual testimony at these hearings –the more opposed, the better.  Testimony can be verbal during the meeting or submitted in writing.

Yakima’s City Hall – Council Chambers: Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023

Department of Enterprise Services, Olympia:  Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023

Written testimony must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 22. Review the SBCC Testimony Guidelines.

  • All written testimony must be addressed to the Council Chair and:
    • Sent to the Council email box at; or
    • Mailed to the State Building Code Council, PO Box 41449, Olympia WA 98504-1449; or
    • Hand delivered to staff at a public hearing.
  • Any testimony or correspondence sent directly to council members will not be accepted as public testimony.

 A look back

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.

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