Challenges We Faced in 2021: Building Codes

Codes and Standards

NAHB is heavily involved in the International Code Council (ICC) building code development and adoption process. Each year brings new challenges as product manufacturers and special interests attempt to use building codes to advance their agendas. And 2021 was no exception.

The year began with the publication of the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) after a controversial development process. Although NAHB won some key victories in the appeals process, the 2021 IECC still contains many onerous changes for builders.

NAHB published an adoption toolkit for the 2021 IECC in July to encourage builders and HBAs to get involved in their states’ amendment and adoption processes, and held a free webinar on the changes to the IECC in November.

But soon after the publication of the IECC, there was good news from ICC: The IECC will now be developed using an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards process favored by NAHB. Soon after, NAHB actively encouraged members to join committees that will steer the IECC development process.

Although code development is a top priority for NAHB, adoption and implementation of published codes is equally important. In 2021, a severe issue was identified in the 2020 National Electrical Code (NEC) that caused tripping of major appliances and climate systems when fully adopted.

NAHB and state HBAs immediately sprang into action, alerting builders to the issue and pushing state code bodies to delay or amend adoption of the 2020 NEC:

NAHB’s government affairs team also works to protect building codes from the legislative process, a trend that has unfortunately been increasing in recent years. NAHB sent a letter to Congress in September expressing strong opposition to a provision in the Build Back Better Act that appropriates $300 million to provide incentive funding for state and local governments to adopt a building energy code that meets or exceeds the zero-energy provisions in the 2021 IECC.

NAHB strongly believes building codes should not be dictated by lawmakers in Washington. The ICC’s governmental consensus process, which gives local building official final say in codes, is the correct path, and NAHB will always fight to keep building codes out of legislation.

Building codes are a critical part of the residential construction industry, and NAHB will always make them a top organizational priority. In 2022, ICC will develop the all-important International Residential Code (IRC), and NAHB will be involved at every step. Learn more about the code development process.

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