Statement: The International Code Council should not ban voting on building codes

Media Contacts
Brynn Furey

After city officials cast their ballots for more efficient building codes in 2019, the ICC may strip them and other members of their ability to vote on future energy standards

Environment America

BOSTON — As cities and towns are pressing for clean energy building codes to rein in global warming emissions, gas and building industry groups are pressuring the International Code Council (ICC) to shut elected officials out from voting on the baseline building code standard. The ICC’s decision to ban members from voting on the updated code may be considered as early as Wednesday

Established in 1994, the ICC is a nonprofit association of industry groups, professionals and government officials that sets a standard building code adopted worldwide. The standard building code creates the baseline for building energy efficiency requirements across the country and around the world. 

Last year, hundreds of elected officials registered to vote in the process. They successfully won on mandates to increase efficiency and require new buildings to be electric-ready by including wiring to hook up electric cars and appliances. The victory created pushback from industry groups like the National Association of Home Builders and the American Gas Association, who appealed several measures that the ICC had previously approved. Now the ICC is considering ending the voting process altogether and taking away one of the most critical avenues for government officials to influence their jurisdictions’ building codes. 

In response, Environment America’s Energy Conservation and Efficiency Associate Brynn Furey issued the following statement: 

“This is the latest tactic that gas industry leaders are using to maintain their grip on building codes and prevent regulations that would limit their power. Whether they are advocating to cut off voting on the model code or trying to strip local governments ability to regulate gas use in buildings, it’s clear that they are spooked by local leadership as decision makers begin to recognize the importance of energy efficiency and building electrification for our health and the environment.

“Building codes play a critical role to advance clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our homes and businesses. Local elected officials working to bring the benefits of efficiency and local clean energy production to their constituents should have a say in what the buildings of the future look like. With no federal building code in the United States, many cities and towns peg their standards to whatever the ICC mandates every three years. If the association chooses to block elected officials from voting on future codes, cities and towns across the United States will lose a key pathway to influence energy efficiency in their local homes and buildings.

“Now is the time to accelerate the transition off of fossil fuels, not erect roadblocks. All stakeholders, including local elected officials, should continue to be able to vote in the ICC’s code-setting process. If the last voting process taught us anything, it’s that our decision makers are engaged and want to push the needle on building efficiency. They shouldn’t be shut out.”