Legislative Issues

2020 Proposed Code Changes

Attorney General opinions on the Elimination of the Energy Codes

Call to Action – BY FEBRUARY 4
Idaho Association of Building Officials
January 31, 2020

It has come to our attention that the some members of the Senate Commerce Committee, which is considering updating building and energy code rules, are advocating for the elimination of the Idaho Energy Conservation Code (Idaho ECC) at the state level, and furthermore may be looking to block local governments from being able to adopt local energy efficiency standards if the state eliminates them.  

We are asking you to email the legislators who sit on the Senate Commerce Committee BEFORE their hearing on this matter on TUESDAY, February 4th at 1:30 pm and ask them to keep energy codes in Idaho! Committee member names and emails are below:

Chair Jim L. Patrick
Vice Chair Jeff Agenbroad
Fred S. Martin
Todd M. Lakey
Jim Guthrie
Steven P. Thayn
Mary Souza

Janie Ward-Engelking
Grant Burgoyne 

Just click on their names to get their email and send them a short message telling them that energy efficiency codes are important to Idahoans.   We have provided several arguments below that you can utilize to get your message across.  

ALSO please encourage them to approve the IDAPA Rules Docket #07-0301-1901 as presented to include the 2018 updates and amendments to all of the building codes.

Below are some of the reasons we have heard to eliminate energy codes and some responses to them:

  • Energy codes are not a life-safety code - This stems from a basic misunderstanding of the energy code, and what it is designed to achieve. The energy code fundamentally improves the durability of buildings as well as the health and safety of the occupants inside. It’s not just a “nice-to-have”.  It works in tandem with the other model building codes to ensure safe buildings.  

  • The public does not want this code -Consumer studies have shown that a majority of the public have the expectation that their new home is built to the latest codes. This is your opportunity to let the legislators know that their constituents do want to see energy efficient codes and construction in Idaho. 

  • It adds costs to a home that make it unaffordable for some – Efficiency measures do add some upfront costs to the home.  But according to a 2012 Market Assessment Survey 79% of Idaho homeowners in the survey were willing to finance between $1,000 - $5,000 for a home that will save 15% on energy bills (Note that at today’s interest rates $1,000 in additional cost is equal to $4.00 added to a monthly mortgage payment),  The energy code is the only code that literally pays for itself, saving home and building owners money year after year. 

  • Buyer Beware - It is the buyer’s responsibility to do their research, if they want an energy efficient home they should look for one, if they do not they should have that choice - Realistically is there anyone who would “choose” to live in a home with no efficiency measures?  Would you voluntarily choose to pay a fortune to heat your home instead of realizing savings? Would you voluntarily choose to sacrifice your health and comfort to save a few upfront dollars?  

Unfortunately, homes that currently do not meet energy efficiency standards tend to be the very oldest housing stock (since energy efficiency standards have been in place since the 1980’s in Idaho), and tend to be occupied by lower income residents.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently reported that nearly one in three households struggle to pay energy bills and one in five households reported reducing or foregoing basic necessities like food or medicine to pay energy bills.  Do we want to return to this by eliminating energy codes in Idaho?

Other points to make – 

  • A large group of building industry related organizations worked collaboratively over the past 18 months to come up with mutually agreed upon code language and amendments to make the Idaho ECC a code that fits Idaho.  They all support the energy code! This includes architects, engineers, building contractors, building code officials, city and county officials, building industry groups and the public.

  • A majority of contractors in Idaho are already meeting, and exceeding, the 2018 energy code standards according to the Idaho Residential Energy Code Field Study, February 2019

  • A majority of home buyers automatically assume that the home they are purchasing is “up to code” and includes energy efficiency standards 

Go to https://www.idabo.org/legislative-issues for more information.

Sources :

Idaho Residential Energy Code Field Study, February 2019

2012 Market Assessment Survey

Health and Safety Benefits of Adopting the Latest Model Energy Codes 

To learn more about energy codes in Idaho visit https://www.idahoenergycode.com/