Builders Oppose Energy Code Change

Washington, DC — Energy cost savings that have been “hyped” in changes to the residential energy requirements of the International Energy Conservation Code would take years to materialize and would add appreciably to the cost of a home, the National Association of Home Builders said last month.

Stating its opposition to the energy code changes, the Washington, DC-based NAHB asserted that the code revisions “will ratchet up code requirements for insulation in wood-framed walls,” adding at least $600 to the cost of an average new home while saving only about $15 a year in energy costs. Moreover, energy savings would take 40 to 90 years to materialize, the NAHB charged.

“NAHB supports building codes that promote energy efficiency, but home buyers should not bear the burden for expensive new requirements that provide little benefit,” reported Jerry Howard, NAHB executive v.p. and CEO. “Seven to ten years, the average time a new home buyer lives in his new home, is a more appropriate payback period for energy cost savings.”

The modifications increase wall insulation requirements (or R-values) in all climate zones for all types of wood-framed construction. The modifications were initiated in late 2003, after the Department of Energy proposed major reforms to simplify compliance with the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

“During a hearing on this proposal, proprietary interests pressed for last-minute modifications, including the onerous insulation requirement, which were later approved by the International Code Council as part of the 2004 supplement to the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC),” commented the NAHB, adding that both the trade association and the DOE opposed the changes.

The NAHB said it will urge the IECC Committee to go back to DOE’s originally proposed requirements.