All is not quiet on the remodeling front when it comes to climate and energy policy. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), among others, has come out in opposition to a key House bill on energy conservation that it and other critics say unnecessarily and unreasonably toughens local building codes.

“In addition to our concerns over the federal preemption of States’ rights to determine building codes, as provided by the Constitution, H.R. 2454 violates due process and creates a national building code that completely supplants the national model code development process,” wrote Joseph Stanton, NAHB’s chief lobbyist, in a letter dated May 19 to Representative Henry Waxman D-Calif., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Joe Barton, the committee’s ranking Republican.

But remodelers from the green community in particular are disappointed in NAHB’s position. “It boggles the mind how some greet opportunity with trepidation. Of course the industry is going to try and finesse their way to avoid doing things correct,” wrote a commenter in response to a blog posted this Tuesday on Remodeling Online by Michael Anschel, of Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build.

In that blog, Anschel challenged NAHB’s position on “rejecting meaningful change” and went on to lambaste the NAHB Green Building Standard as “more worthless than the paper it is printed on.”

Code Police?

NAHB’s position, and Anschel’s reaction to it, are in response to H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. It was introduced May 15 by Rep. Waxman and has since been cleared by several committees. Now it's in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Section 201 of the bill, among other things, creates national energy efficiency building codes intended to reduce national energy usage by 30% in the next five years and by 50% for residential buildings starting in 2014. Those reductions would use as a baseline the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code.

The NAHB and other housing-related groups, including the National Association of Realtors, the Building Owners and Managers Association, the National Multi Housing Council, and The Real Estate Roundtable, also said in a joint letter, "The proposal, as currently written, makes faulty or unproven economic and technical assumptions about the viability of achieving certain energy efficiency targets for buildings and homes.”

They further dislike that the proposal “creates new authority for the federal government to police building codes; holds developers and owners of buildings -- including homeowners -- liable for not reaching federal energy efficient mandates even if the buildings are presumably in compliance with applicable local building codes; and establishes a civil penalty for violators of this section of the bill.”

That’s your position? Fine, wrote another commenter on Anschel’s blog. “Forget mandating codes. Instead, require every NAHB and NAR board member and contractor to live in a home built to NAHB standards and pay the heating/cooling and repair costs. That may change their mind about code and their Green building program.”

See more coverage of the energy bill, including lumber dealers’ opposition to it, on ProSales. To see Michael Anschel’s blog and its resulting commentary, click here. --Leah Thayer, senior edtior, REMODELING.

To read the NAHB's response to this article, click here.