The City Council this week voted against a proposal to delay more rigorous standards for energy efficiency in new home construction in Kansas City.
In October, the council adopted the 2021 version of the International Energy Conservation Code and set an effective date of July 1.
Mayor Quinton Lucas said in October that the updates to Kansas City’s IECC codes were “essential to ensure we reach our climate action goals. Enacting these new, more energy efficient standards will benefit residents long-term, saving families hundreds of dollars each year.”
But this week, council member Dan Fowler asked the City Council to push back the effective date of the stricter energy codes to Oct. 1. Ultimately, the council rejected the delay in a 7-4 vote Thursday.
The Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City opposed the new codes.
“The version of the energy code that will now go into effect July 1 will add thousands of upfront costs to a newly built home,” the association said in a press release Friday.
The HBA initially pushed for a one-year delay of the new energy code, a move sponsored by council members Kevin O’Neill and Heather Hall. But after failing to get support from a majority of the council, Fowler agreed to sponsor a compromise of three months.
Fowler, O’Neill, Hall and Teresa Loar, who represent Northland council districts, voted in favor of the delay.
“Most of the builders and developers are in my district, north of the river. So they call me all the time,” Loar said. “But there’s only four of us north that can support them.”
O’Neill said, “We’ve placed a lot of new costs on developers throughout the last three years … These all add up.” He’s concerned developers will look to build in other areas that don’t have added costs.
After the council vote, Kansas City resident Eslun Tucker, who pushed for adoption of the new codes, said delaying their implementation was not the real intention behind the vote.
“The effort here was basically a naked attempt not to delay, but to kill it, to keep it from being enacted. Period,” said Tucker, vice president of the Metropolitan Energy Center board of directors. “They were trying to push it out further so that they can have another bite at the apple.”
The International Energy Conservation Code is just one of many building codes, like fire and electrical. It’s “a model building code that sets minimum efficiency standards in new construction for a structure’s walls, floors, ceilings, lighting, windows, doors, duct leakage, and air leakage,” according to the National Association of Home Builders website.
“Key changes to the 2021 IECC improve efficiency by 9.4 percent and reduce greenhouse gasses by 8.7 percent over the 2018 IECC,” according to the International Code Council, the body that creates building codes in the U.S.
New requirements for insulation, lighting and ventilation testing, for example, lead to these improved outcomes.