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New ‘Green’ Building Code to Dominate Housing Construction

Consumers and local governments must bow to more government overreach.

The announcement of a “model” international building code might understandably elicit yawns. However, the 2024 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is cause for Americans to bolt upright and pay close attention. The vain imaginings of corporate and NGO “stakeholders” who propose to completely dominate American housing construction in the name of saving the planet promise to drive up housing costs and mandate dangerous grid dependency that erases longstanding constitutional liberties.

The 2024 plan would dramatically expand regulations for both residential and commercial construction, possibly including both new and existing homes.

Building Codes That Demolish Liberties

According to the code’s executive summary, “concern is growing around the world about the impacts of climate change” and “consumers are seeking more energy efficient and sustainable homes.” This assertion excludes those who have concerns about overblown climate fearmongering and consumers accustomed to free market choices in an already overpriced housing market. Behind this shallow justification are special interest groups who feign to speak for all consumers, whose liberties are extinguished in favor of a compelled code rather than rules freely chosen by We the People.

The executive summary lists the expanded plans of control:

“The [2024] IECC will continue to be updated on a three-year cycle and each edition will increase efficiency over the prior edition; The code will include pathways leading to the achievement of zero energy buildings presently and by 2030; The code may include non-mandatory appendices incorporating energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction resources including for electric vehicle charging, electrification and embodied carbon; The code’s minimum efficiency requirements will be strengthened each edition based on a balancing test supported by energy efficiency advocates and the building industry and passed by both the U.S. House and Senate; The development committees will be informed by insight from a newly established Energy and Carbon Advisory Council made up of public and private sector leaders. Governments continue to have the ultimate say on whether to adopt or amend model codes.”

This outsourcing of vitally important regulatory authority is unusual, diminishes the role of voter “stakeholders,” appears to promulgate policies that enrich corporate interests and advance pseudo-scientific climate alarmism. The usual invocations of protections for “marginalized communities” are absent here, and these plans will escalate housing costs dramatically. Like Biden’s EPA noose-tightening of vehicle emissions standards, compulsory appliance manufacturing standards, and “wartime powers” to subsidize heat pumps, the IECC’s “three-year cycle” will doubtless transition “non-mandatory” provisions to the “shall” column.

Disenfranchised Homeowners

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the 2024 rule-making process has shifted:

“In years past, the energy code was developed through a process in which the final decisions were determined by the votes of government officials.

 

“Beginning with the development of the 2024 IECC, the ICC board of directors changed the procedure so it now follows a standards development process where final decisions rest with consensus committee members who represent a wide range of stakeholders.”

The NAHB has a stakeholder seat at the policy table; the consumers who foot the bill are out in the proverbial cold, though they can post comments. The glowing “testimonials” of other profit-making or politically biased stakeholders sitting at this elitist table display an ideological smorgasbord of piranha-like feasting and even fishier propaganda. The American Society of Interior Designers (most all of whose products and services pollute more than they save) gushes that it “has complete confidence in the ICC consensus-based standards development process as a well-grounded framework that connects open and inclusive stakeholder participation.” The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) boasts “a long history of constructive collaboration to promote decarbonization … and efficiency of buildings … many of which are required or permitted in the family of I-codes, … [and] will continue to be unwavering advocates for adoption and enforcement in every state and jurisdiction in the nation.”

BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) International has a special seat. RESNET (Residential Energy Services Network), whose website proclaims it is “Leading the Path to Net Zero Energy Homes,” has a seat at the table, from which it dictates that it will “ensure future editions of the IECC are developed using a consensus-based process that is fair, open, transparent, and based upon science.”

Forced Homelessness?

But where are the citizens who will be controlled in this “fair, open, transparent” cabal of profitmaking? The Solar Energy Industries Association chirps in neo-Marxist unison about “this new process to move new buildings toward zero net energy and zero net carbon with the full suite of options, including solar.” Any conflict of interest here? Another plug is from Nu-Wool Co., Inc., which “manufactures environmentally friendly cellulose insulation materials,” fattened, no doubt, by its virtue-profiteering.

But what of real wool? Actual sheep’s wool, long used to insulate homes, is presumably not permitted under this globalist building code. What of straw-bale homes? These are extremely efficient, can last for hundreds of years, and do not require chemicals and manufacturing facilities. What of existing construction, remote homesteads, or rusting 1960s trailers in which millions of Americans are forced to live because of skyrocketing food, vehicle, and energy prices? It appears that they are excluded from the table, the wool wrapped tightly around their eyes and handcuffing their basic rights.

Per the NAHB, the 2024 IECC is considering (and the following measures are quoted directly):

• Requiring on-site solar panels

• Requiring electric vehicle charging capability or readiness

• Increasing the stringency of insulation, windows, and building and duct tightness

• Requiring energy-recovery ventilators (ERVs)

• Imposing a penalty on houses larger than 5,000 square feet

The NAHB approvingly stated: “[T]he final decisions rest with consensus committees, not governmental voting members.” But the alleged consensus is of one ideological ilk. Jennifer Amann, a senior fellow at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, told Fox News Digital:

“The model building energy code before the International Code Council represents a consensus agreement among builders, building code officials, and energy efficiency advocates, It will cut energy waste in new homes, lower utility bills for homeowners, and reduce pollution.

“The International Code Council’s board should approve this commonsense proposal and not bend to special interests representing polluting industries.”

Are straw bales and sheep’s wool “polluting industries”? What of people who want to reside in an off-grid cabin and burn wood? Is the affordability, feasibility, or forced grid dependency of these provisions to be excluded from consideration in this “commonsense” totalitarianism? Perhaps Amann would similarly usurp Americans’ “special interests” to pursue homeownership as part of their “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.” The IECC appears to be run by unelected profiteers, demolishing the American Dream in the name of building.

Read More From John Klar

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