NAHB 2021 IECC Appeals Summary

Codes and Standards
Contact: Gary Ehrlich
(202) 266-8545

2019 ICC Group B Results

In December 2019, ICC published the preliminary results of the 2021 I-Code Group B Online Vote. Not only did they include a number of new requirements that will be difficult and costly to implement, they revealed a serious shortcoming within the ICC code development process that caused many to question the legitimacy of the process and the resultant codes.

Specifically, there were significant differences in the results of the online vote compared to the two preceding hearings, as a surprising number of proposals within the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) that had been previously defeated won in the online vote. After analyzing the results and voting patterns, it became clear that a couple of organizations joined forces to recruit governmental employees to participate and cast votes in their favor. They provided their recruits a voting guide on how to vote on 108 proposed changes to the IECC.

Of those 108 items, 23 had been voted down during both the Committee Action and Public Comment Hearings and six received either zero or one vote at the Committee Action Hearings. Ultimately, 20 of the 23 earlier-rejected proposals received the 2/3 supermajority of votes needed to prevail in the final vote. Overturning one vote would have been notable and unprecedented as compared to the results of the previous four code cycles where a twice defeated proposal had never been approved by the on-line vote, but for that to happen twenty times was clearly astonishing. Interestingly, the 108 proposals within this specific voting guide also were the top 108 vote-getting proposals.

Although it is not believed that allowing a 2/3 online vote to overturn proposals that were disapproved at the two previous hearing was ever the intent of the ICC process, these results have raised this issue and a number of others to the forefront.

ICC Appeals

NAHB identified several irregularities in the voting process and results for the Group B codes involving the IECC. These irregularities formed the basis of an NAHB appeal that was submitted to ICC in May. Arguing that the integrity of the code development process was at stake, NAHB appealed the passage of these changes in four – later consolidated to three – broad areas:

  • Federal Preemption – New requirements in Proposal RE126, which placed additional requirements on DOE listed products, would likely have been determined to be in violation of the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act. Result: Ultimately, the ICC Board of Directors agreed and set aside the results from the online vote and this provision will not appear in the 2021 IECC.

  • Scope and Intent – Two proposals did not meet the scope and intent of the IECC. RE147 required gas appliances to be pre-wired for future electric conversion and CE217 required parking spaces to be wired with a 240V, 40A receptacle for charging of electric vehicles.

    Result: The ICC Board of Directors agreed that these proposals did not meet the scope and intent of the IECC and set aside the results of the vote; these proposals will not appear in the 2021 IECC.

  • Online Consensus Voter Eligibility and Validation Process – The late inclusion of hundreds of new voters violated ICC;s processes and procedures for voter eligibility.

    Result: While the ICC Board of Directors denied the appeal, it referred the issues to the ICC Board Committee on Long Term Code Development Process for further action.

ICC Board Committee on Long Term Code Development

In February 2019, ICC created a committee tasked with reviewing its code development process – the ICC Board Committee on Long Term Code Development Process (LTCDP), also known as the ICC Blue Ribbon Committee. This committee was a follow-on from the 2016-2017 ICC Board-appointed committee that addressed several short-term code development process issues that were causing problems at that time.

The LTCDP committee had its first meeting in August 2019 to outline its goals, review some longer-term suggestions from the previous committee and accept new suggestions for future discussion. Despite this early start, the committee did not meet again until late 2020 when the appeals from the Group B results were underway. At that point, several new process issues had been identified, both independently and through the appeals that the LTCDP Committee is now expected to address.

The issues that currently are being considered by the LTCDP Committee and that NAHB has identified as high priority include:

  • Twice defeated proposals
  • Proposals’ cost impact
  • Voter eligibility and validation
  • Converting the Energy Code into an Energy Standard
  • Proposal appropriateness (Federally preempted/out of scope proposals)
  • Posting ICC validated voters real-time

The LTCDP committee and its work groups have met on a regular basis since October and have been passing recommendations to the ICC Board of Directors as they become available. It is the committee's goal to complete its work and make all recommendations by early 2021. It is important to note that because the committee is typically developing conceptual recommendations that will need further refining by ICC staff and final approval by the ICC board, it may take some time before all of the remedies are in place.