Building Codes

Accord Reached on Energy-Efficiency Standards Means for Rush To Build New Homes to 2021 IECC Codes

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) settled on new energy-efficiency standards for the construction of new single-family and multifamily homes fulfilling a requirement laid out in a 2007 law that directs the departments to adopt the most recently published energy-efficiency standards following reviews by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and HUD itself.

The “Adoption of Energy Efficiency Standards for New Construction of HUD- and USDA-Financed Housing” went into effect on May 28.

According to an announcement from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), he Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, signed into law by President George W. Bush that December, featured a statutory requirement directing HUD and USDA to, “jointly adopt the most recently published energy efficiency standards for single family and multifamily homes, subject to an energy efficiency determination by the [DOE] and a cost-benefit housing ‘affordability and availability’ test by HUD.”

These standards will, “lower energy costs for owners of newly-constructed homes, benefitting homeowners, FHA, and communities,” as the announcement stated. “HUD expects this to be particularly beneficial for low-income and rural homeowners who typically face disproportionately high energy cost burdens.”

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), The recent federal push to require certain new homes to meet the stringent energy efficiency requirements of the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE 90.1-2019 will price many would-be home buyers and renters out of the market and give them no choice but to stay in older, less efficient homes, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) told Congress today.

Testifying on behalf of NAHB before a House energy subcommittee, Shawn Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo., said the negative consequences of implementing a restrictive, costly national energy code, with no consideration for local conditions, outweigh the minimal improvements to energy efficiency and is a misguided effort.

“Without adequate review or consideration of how it will affect home buyers or renters, HUD and USDA have rammed though a mandate that will require new single-family construction financed through both agencies to be built to the 2021 IECC,” said Woods. “This mandate will do little to curb overall energy use but will exacerbate the housing affordability crisis and hurt the nation’s most vulnerable house hunters.”

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