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E&C Leaders Question Integrity of International Code Council’s Code Development Process

Jan 19, 2021
Press Release
Chairs Demand Answers Following Reports that NAHB Has Blocked Changes to Building Codes & Could Further Increase its Influence Over Process

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) wrote to the International Code Council (ICC) today requesting information regarding the integrity of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which is the basis for building energy codes around the country. The letter follows multiple reports that ICC has an undisclosed written agreement with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), allowing NAHB disproportionate control over the code development process, including the selection of multiple members on ICC committees that draft model building codes.

“Through this agreement, NAHB, an industry trade group representing companies whose work is regulated by the codes, has reportedly blocked changes in building codes intended to make new homes more energy-efficient and resilient to the impacts of a changing climate,” Pallone, Rush and DeGette wrote to ICC Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims. “This is particularly concerning because residential efficiency codes play a key role in reducing emissions, with homes reportedly accounting for almost one-fifth of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions nationwide in 2018.”

The IECC is an important element of national energy policy and a major tool in our nation’s efforts to address climate change. These building codes are incorporated, not only into the laws or regulations of many state and local governments, but also into many federal policies. 

“Recently, ICC announced that it is considering changing the process for developing the IECC in ways that could further increase NAHB’s influence,” Pallone, Rush and DeGette continued.  “Among the changes being considered is replacing the current government consensus process for developing energy codes with the ICC process for developing energy standards. This has raised concerns among stakeholders that state and local officials could be effectively eliminated from providing meaningful input on future revisions to energy building codes.”

ICC is expected to discuss the proposed changes at a meeting on Thursday. To better understand ICC’s revised code development process, the Committee leaders are requesting relevant documents and answers to a series of questions, including:

  • Why the decision was made to guarantee seats to NAHB representatives on ICC committees;
  • An explanation of any privileges or authorities currently granted to any organizations or stakeholders with respect to ICC committee membership;
  • Copies of any written materials, including any written agreement or memorandum of understanding between ICC and NAHB;
  • Whether ICC entered into an agreement with any other organization that guarantees committee representation or otherwise affects the IECC development process;
  • Whether ICC conducted any analysis of how changes to committee composition – including increasing or decreasing industry representation – may impact the development of building codes designed to maximize energy efficiency and achieve emissions reductions;
  • An explanation of the rationale for proposed changes to the code development and voting processes.

The Committee leaders requested a response by February 2. The full letter is available here.