NAHB Formally Challenges Some Recent Building Codes Vote Results
NAHB sent a letter Feb. 14 to International Codes Council (ICC) President Dominic Sims urging the building codes body to carefully reevaluate the validity of many approved voting officials, to reject two specific proposals as not meeting the intent of the energy code, and to reform some of its voting processes while retroactively reconsidering proposals that should not have been on the final ballot. The results from the 2019 Online Governmental Consensus Vote, to determine 2021 building codes proposals, included several irregularities and discrepancies, specifically proposals for the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Some aggressive energy efficiency proposals that had been defeated at prior committee hearings and public comment hearings were approved in the online vote. When proposals are defeated at hearings, they must get a two-thirds majority to overturn past results. It's a bar so high, no previous proposal had ever met the threshold with the online vote. But in this code cycle, 20 IECC proposals cleared the hurdle and came back to life. NAHB is asking the ICC to set aside the results for these 20 proposals and to revise its code adoption process to clarify that the Public Comment Hearing results are considered the Final Action for proposals that were disapproved at both the Committee Action Hearings and the Public Comment Hearings. Two of the 20 proposals were also, in NAHB’s view, clearly outside the intent of the IECC. These proposals require the addition of electric vehicle charging outlets and the installation of electric outlets where gas appliances are installed that can be used for future electric appliance replacement. Neither proposal increases energy efficiency. NAHB is asking that they be rejected regardless of the outcome of the previous request. The 20 IECC proposals that were approved after being previously defeated appeared to have been overturned with significant support from hundreds of new voters in the online vote. And the new voters were added late in the code cycle. In 2019, only minor updates occurred to the ICC Member Directory after two deadlines on March 29 and Sept. 23. At some point between late October and Dec. 19, 2019, however, there was a major update that added roughly 209 newly validated Governmental Members to the roster, totaling about 1,345 new Voting Representatives. NAHB is concerned about the eligibility of many of the new Governmental Members. The letter to ICC includes an attachment with names of specific local government agencies and departments whom NAHB is asking the ICC to re-evaluate. Once that reassessment is completed, the online vote results should be retallied, excluding and the votes of any GMVRs who do not meet the current bylaws. As a leading participant in crafting the I-Codes, NAHB and its members have a significant interest in retaining the rigor, credibility and legitimacy of the code development process in order to create building codes that are enforceable and provide safe, energy-efficient and affordable homes. The ICC must acknowledge the irregularities of the most recent online vote and take steps to remedy the results and ensure the validity of the process. For more information on the building code development process and builders' role in it, visit the Code Development page on nahb.org or contact Craig Drumheller.