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More States Embrace the 2012 IECC, But Not Lovingly

Posted by Mike Collignon

Sep 15, 2014 6:16:00 PM

General Code Information
In early June, an amended version of SB 1023 passed the State Senate by a 47-1 vote. The bill attempts to do away with the current code adoption process, which calls for two-thirds approval of a code change or it is rejected. The amended version of SB 1023 allows “all proposed code changes to be adopted unless two-thirds of the Review and Advisory Council (RAC) votes them out.” It also adds “two members to the RAC with expertise in building energy efficiency.”

The bill still has to pass the House. On July 2, it was amended in committee and then tabled, so no vote is scheduled for the full House yet. Finally, the RAC has to make a decision on the 2015 IECC by June 2015 and perform the required analysis. (Details of the amendment can be read here: http://tinyurl.com/k3q2swr)

After 2009, the RAC process was drastically changed in order to make improvements in the code incredibly difficult. A large contingent of homebuilder RAC members combined with the two-thirds approval requirement made passage of energy efficient provisions almost impossible. This is a process that needs correction. If this bill gets through the House and signed by the Governor, the chances of an updated energy code increase dramatically.

Energy Code Information
In an extremely understated decision, the State has adopted the 2012 IECC without amendments. It will go into effect on July 1, 2015. Two jurisdictions, Clark County and the City of Henderson, are making it effective one year early. Presumably, other communities will move to the new code closer to the State’s effective date.

The unfortunate part of the story is that while the state energy code is law, there are no consequences for non-compliance. Jurisdictions can choose to ignore the code, without repercussions from the State. The cities of Mesquite, North Las Vegas and Las Vegas have all chosen this course of inaction. Their decisions could influence more jurisdictions to follow suit. At present, there has been no progress in finding a state legislator willing to strengthen the law. However, the Nevada State Board of Architecture, Interior Design and Residential Design (NSBAIDRD) has informed all its members that in order to retain their licenses, they must design to the statute. This presents two conflicts for projects in certain jurisdictions. Does the owner of a project adhere to the jurisdiction’s energy code, or the architect’s design? And if the owner decides to ignore the state law, it precludes any and all ethical architects and designers from working on the project, thus hurting local businesses.

Residential Energy Code Information
The State is on the threshold of going to a residential energy code based on the 2012 model energy code, rather than its previous practice of developing its own state-specific code. The code, which includes a few amendments, took almost two years to develop. The amendments include downgrading the wall insulation to R-20 or R-13+5 in climate zone 6 and R-21 in climate zone 7.
Due to a multi-layered bureaucratic process, the code won’t become effective until sometime in 2015.

This is big change for Minnesota, as it ends a long-held practice of crafting its own code. Not only is the State going to rely heavily on the model code, it is also shaving R-5 (20 percent) off the wall insulation requirement for climate zone 6 and R-4 off climate zone 7’s requirement. This is very disappointing for a State that a) heretofore had an energy code that was a little more stringent than the IECC and b) went through a brutal winter where propane was in short supply.

Memo #16 – RAC Process Changes,
Senator Charles McIlhinney

Southwest Energy Efficiency Partnership

Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP)

Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

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