The International Code Council stands accused by environmentalists of siding with energy and construction industry interests against energy efficiency standards promoted by governments. On March 3, 2020, the ICC board of directors limited the voting power of state and city government officials when determining updates to building codes related to energy efficiency. Thousands of government officials have traditionally been a part of the voting process that also included industry representatives. An energy policy advocate from the Natural Resources Defense Council called the decision an attack on the democratic process.

State And Local Governments Want Energy Efficient Codes

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During the last round of voting on building code updates in 2019, a surge of participation from local government officials resulted in new energy efficiency standards. Local officials largely see building codes as a way to reduce pollution from energy consumption. Buildings account for roughly 40 percent of energy use in the United States.

Household electric meter, USA. Credit: Jc3s5h

ICC standards are widely adopted across North and South American and even the Middle East. Because of the widespread influence of ICC standards, environmentalists viewed energy-efficient building codes as a strategy for having a meaningful, long-term impact on pollution.

More Electricity Less Gas

Many of the building codes advanced by government officials involved preparing homes and buildings to use electricity from renewable sources instead of relying on natural gas infrastructure. Additionally, some codes called for electric vehicle charging station infrastructure. Overall, the 2021 updates represented a 10 percent energy efficiency gain on previous standards.

Level 2 EV charging stations at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, Arlington, Virginia. Credit: Mariordo

Industry Likes Little To No Change

Changes to building codes traditionally arose slowly until the groundswell of interest from municipalities looking to cut CO2 pollution. As a result, industry members, like the American Gas Association or National Association of Home Builders, voting on ICC updates usually had the most influence. The activism in 2019 appears to have prompted the ICC board to undermine the influence of local building authorities.

Do you expect this move by the ICC to force local governments to impose energy efficiency standards individually instead of working toward international standards?

ABOUT International Code Council

The International Code Council is the leading global source of model codes and standards and building safety solutions that include product evaluation, accreditation, technology, training, and certification. The Code Council’s codes, standards, and solutions are used to ensure safe, affordable, and sustainable communities and buildings worldwide.

The International Code Council (ICC) family of solutions includes the ICC Evaluation Service (ICC-ES), S.K. Ghosh Associates, the International Accreditation Service (IAS), General Code, ICC NTA, ICC Community Development Solutions. Alliance for National & Community Resilience (ANCR), and Progressive Engineering Inc., which are dedicated to the construction of safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures.

ABOUT American Gas Association

The American Gas Association, founded in 1918, represents more than 200 local energy companies that deliver clean natural gas throughout the United States. There are more than 76 million residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers in the U.S., of which 95 percent — more than 72 million customers — receive their gas from AGA members. Today, natural gas meets more than thirty percent of the United States’ energy needs.

The American Gas Association (AGA) represents companies delivering natural gas safely, reliably, and in an environmentally responsible way to help improve the quality of life for their customers every day. AGA’s mission is to provide clear value to its membership and serve as the indispensable, leading voice and facilitator on its behalf in promoting the safe, reliable, and efficient delivery of natural gas to homes and businesses across the nation.

ABOUT National Association of Home Builders

The National Association of Home Builders of the United States strives to protect the American Dream of housing opportunities for all, while working to achieve professional success for its members who build communities, create jobs and strengthen our economy.

  • Knowledge: Offers education and other resources members need to expand their businesses and achieve personal success.
  • Networking: Creates opportunities within a community of home-building professionals for members to build key relationships and increase their profitability.
  • Expertise: Develops solutions for members’ businesses through access to experts who provide insight and information.
  • Advocacy: Improves the business environment on Capitol Hill, in state capitols and in local communities by eliminating excessive regulations.
  • Savings: Saves members money through advocacy efforts, exclusive services and products, and the Member Advantage program.

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