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NAHB Opposes Energy Codes Provision in Build Back Better Act

A hard hat and a law book with a gavel on it on top of blueprints
Legislative language appropriates $300 million to provide incentive funding for states and local governments to adopt a building energy code that meets or exceeds the zero-energy provisions in the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said it sent a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and members of his committee expressing strong opposition to a provision in the Build Back Better Act that would exacerbate the current housing affordability crisis and limit energy choice to consumers as a result of aggressive energy efficiency requirements in model building energy codes.

Specifically, NAHB pointed out, the legislative language appropriates $300 million to provide incentive funding for states and local governments to adopt a building energy code that meets or exceeds the zero-energy provisions in the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

"These targets are not appropriate or cost-effective for many jurisdictions; rather, the Department of Energy should help states advance the codes in a manner that best fits the needs of state and local governments," NAHB said. "Section 30433 [the building codes section of the bill] will result in an increase in the cost of homes, which may encourage people to remain in older, less energy-efficient homes.”

NAHB said it further told lawmakers that a failure to consider the true economic costs of required energy-use reductions in model building energy codes and declining to establish reasonable payback periods for these investments will result in fewer families being able to achieve the American dream of homeownership. 

“The American people are facing a public health crisis, a rapidly escalating climate crisis, and long-term economic challenges that demand decisive action by Congress,” Pallone said. “. . . [T]he Energy and Commerce Committee will take up transformational legislation that invests in the American people, responds to the challenges of our time, and builds back a better future for generations to come."

At a Full Committee markup on the Build Back Better Act, Pallone said, "This transformational legislation is needed now as the American people are facing a public health crisis, a rapidly escalating climate crisis, and long-term economic challenges. We will begin by taking critical action to combat the worsening climate crisis. There is no time for delay."

The Build Back Better Agenda is an ambitious plan to create jobs, cut taxes, and lower costs for working families—all paid for by making the tax code fairer and making the wealthiest and large corporations pay their fair share, according to the White House.

Driven by the largest shortfall of new housing units in 50 years, rents and housing prices continue to increase—with some 10.5 million renters paying more than half their incomes in rent—The Build Back Better Agenda will use tax credits and government financing to bolster affordable and resilient housing, supporting the construction or rehabilitation of more than two million homes, according to the White House.

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