This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book. 08.2012


Anti-regulatory forces claim to be defending “freedoms”

HE FAVORITE DANCE STEP of the code dinosaurs continues. Typically, that involves the building industry taking one step forward and two steps back in response to any policy or regulation

intended to improve performance and promote sustainability in the built environment. Some have practically taken it to an art form. Case in point, the NAHB recognized the Pennsylvania Builders Association by awarding their organization their “Best Government Aff airs Eff ort Regionally,” along with the highly coveted “Best PR Program Conducted” after the state association successfully dismantled regulations requiring fi re sprinklers—then went even further, getting legislation passed that eff ectively brought the code adoption process in Pennsylvania to a halt, according to some observers. The consensus is that the industry groups have, for

all practical purposes, hijacked the review process in the state. All of this has happened against the backdrop of

news reports focusing on rising sea levels, record shattering heat across much of the nation, massive power outages for millions of customers following violent storm events and unprecedented destruction from wildfi res in several states in the Rockies. But Pennsylvania is not alone. The people of Alabama launched their own preemptive strike against green building, by enacting a new law that would essentially give them veto power over any proposed sustainable development in their state. It seems that while they may have little specifi cally

against “breathable air, drinkable water and livable climate” they have covered their bets by making sure they can’t be forced into planning for any of those. The driving force behind the action was growing apprehension over the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, also known as Agenda 21, which Alabamans determined to be nothing more than a plot by the United Nations to take away their freedoms. That Declaration, incidentally, turned out to be a toothless dud. It seems that life in the codes arena remains, as always, stranger than fi ction.

Building Code

The “Top Ten” items are selected on the basis of issues about which the Coalition has either been contacted directly or is monitoring for eff ect on the green building industry. The items may change from report to report, as they become resolved or have signifi cant updates. Items that deserve more in-depth analysis and reporting will be expanded within the Building Code State Spotlight.

1. WEST VIRGINIA Commercial Codes: Shortly after the beginning of the year, the Green Buildings Act was introduced in the state legislature. It called for all state-funded construction commencing after July 1 to comply with ASHRAE 90.1-2007 and whatever IECC version the State Fire Commission chooses to use. The State Fire Marshal proposed a regulatory rule that would also update the code for one- and two-family dwell- ings to the 2012 IBC and 2012 IRC (with minor amendments). By March 10th, the Act had passed both chambers. Three weeks later, Governor Tomblin signed the Act into law. Observation(s): This state is due for an upgrade to their energy code. The Act requires the equivalent of the 2009 IECC, but only for state-fund- ed buildings. We hope that as the construction industry in West Virginia adjusts to comply with this new law, they will become comfortable building to a higher standard. It should also give the state the confi dence to raise the energy code for all residential and commercial buildings.

2. INDIANA (UPDATE) General Code Information: As discussed in 2011’s Q3 report, the state had been operating under the 1992 energy code. Early in Q2 of 2012, the state’s up- graded residential energy code (2009 IECC) went into eff ect. The rest of the state’s residential code, however, was not updated. The commercial code was updated to the 2006 IECC approximately 2 years ago. Observation(s): As previously stated, this was long overdue. What is discouraging is that the rest of the residential code was not updated, so there are still a number of not-so-modern (i.e., unsustainable) building practices that are allowed under Indiana law.

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