The ICC’s Board of Directors Made the Right Call

On March 20, the International Code Council’s (ICC) Board of Directors approved appeals to the 2024 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) made by the American Gas Association (AGA), Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, American Public Gas Association, Building Owners and Managers Association, National Multifamily Housing Council and the ICC’s Region VI itself. The decision moved problematic electric-ready provisions of the code to a non-mandatory appendix, presented other provisions outside the code as a resource and protected the integrity of the code as a leading energy efficiency resource for states. It was also the next in line of a long chain of events including the protection of fuel choice in 25 states and the rejection of a natural gas ban in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that indicate the future of natural gas in continuing to deliver efficiency, reliability and affordability for American families.

If you are unaware of what IECC is, then you are not alone. The building efficiency code is crafted by the ICC – a nonprofit organization of building safety professionals that works with stakeholders to create a series of model building codes, which state and local governments can choose to adopt in whole, in part, or not at all. In many jurisdictions, the latest version of the codes the ICC creates is automatically adopted.

As a Founding Strategic Partner of the ICC, the AGA has consistently supported the ICC’s mission to enhance energy efficiency in building construction while ensuring that all types of energy are recognized. The natural gas industry has been instrumental in improving energy efficiency and driving down emissions across the nation, thereby aiding our country in achieving our energy and environmental goals. Even as the number of natural gas consumers has grown, natural gas consumption levels have remained virtually unchanged in the residential and commercial sectors due to updated building codes, more efficient appliances and equipment, behavioral changes in energy consumption, and the effectiveness of natural gas utility efficiency programs. 

However, it became evident that the development of the 2024 IECC deviated from its foundational principles of promoting energy conservation through a process characterized by openness, transparency, fairness, and the balanced representation of all interests. During the development of the 2024 IECC code, we witnessed material and significant due process irregularities, resulting in a final code that was developed through unauthorized, extra-procedural processes. Specifically, we have observed considerable procedural discrepancies during its formulation, notably:

Such deviations not only compromise the integrity of the code but also pose significant economic and social repercussions, disproportionately affecting low-income communities by escalating construction costs without commensurate efficiency gains or energy reliability improvements. They may also result in significant antitrust liability to the parties whose concerted action resulted in the amendments restraining use or access to products, services, and energy sources. 

The 2024 IECC will have a powerful economic influence and will be incorporated by reference by federal, state, and local governments. Because it is developed by market participants or persons who may gain from its economic impacts, the IECC amendments must be based on an objective standard and developed through due process principles, including openness, transparency, and balance of interested parties.

The ICC Board of Directors made the right decision for the United States to be more energy efficient in removing these deeply problematic provisions from the code base. This is further confirmation of how natural gas and our delivery system are fundamental to protecting America’s energy security and achieving our environmental goals and economic prosperity.