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ID Lawmakers Eye Removing Energy Efficiency From Building Codes

(Arpad Nagy-Bagoly/Adobe Stock)

Some Idaho legislators believe the state's building codes don't need to include energy standards, whichdictate things such as heat insulation. The building industry has said removing these standards could endanger Idahoans. 

"It's a common-sense component – that we insulate a house and make a home and buildings efficient, to use less energy and to operate in a more healthy environment for the people who are in it,” said Jon Laux, a community development director for Twin Falls County and a member of the Idaho Building Code Board.

He's opposed to Idaho lawmakers considering removing energy standards from building codes. Provisions such as heat insulation and water sealing to prevent hazards such as black mold are addressed in energy codes.

Laux said buildings that are more energy efficient also are more affordable. At the February Senate committee meeting, Twin Falls Republican Senator Jim Patrick suggested removing standards because energy efficiency is not a building-safety issue and he said it's not appropriate for the government to mandate these standards.

The American Institute of Architects Idaho chapter sent a letter to House Business Committee members asking them not to remove energy standards from building codes, and said it would expose people to temperature extremes and could lead to energy shortages as the state's population grows. 

Andrew Bick is an architect and chairman of the Idaho Building Code Board. He said lawmakers will be going against the wishes of the building industry if it does not adopt the revised version of the 2018 building codes.

"It's the first time in the 12 years I've been on the building code board where all parties that are a part of the board were in complete agreement that these 2018 codes made sense to adopt,” Bick said.

The latest energy-code standards have the support of groups such as the Division of Building Safety, Idaho Associated General Contractors and National Association of Remodelers of Idaho. It also has support from conservation groups, which see these codes as a way for the building sector to cut down on its carbon footprint.