The International Code Council made an unpublicized deal with the National Association of Home Builders that has effectively blocked efforts to boost energy efficiency and structure resiliency in the ICC’s code development, according to a report in the New York Times.
The previously undisclosed written agreement guarantees NAHB representatives four of the 11 voting seats—enough to stymie certain new code provisions—on two committees that approve building code revisions, according to critics. This pact has helped enable the trade group to prevent changes that would have made new houses in much of the country more energy-efficient or more resilient to floods, hurricanes, and other disasters, the Times report says.
Before NAHB members gained seats on the energy committee, the energy efficiency of those building codes increased 32% over six years. After the homebuilders’ industry’s influence expanded, that number was less than 3% over the same amount of time, the Times report says.
NAHB officials say that the agreement is appropriate, given that its members are most impacted by the codes, and the group opposes changes that would make houses more expensive and price consumers out of the market. Critics charge that the arrangement has thwarted important code provisions such as mandates for tougher foundations in flood-prone areas and measures to ensure that roofs were less likely to blow off during hurricanes.