A St. Louis County, MO, committee charged with recommending which new building codes the county should adopt has recommended the county remove some of the measures meant to reduce energy usage in new homes, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Although environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, are pushing the local government to embrace the significant energy-efficiency upgrades in the 2015 International Energy Conservation Codes, homebuilders have said mandating those changes would add at least $32,420 to the price of a home — leaving thousands of Missourians unable to afford homeownership. The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance disagreed, saying the cost of enforcing all of the 2015 IECC upgrades would result in a $2,000 bump to each home’s upfront cost.
The chairman of the code committee said the addition of strict energy-efficiency standards should be incremental rather than all at once, which is “too big of a change,” the newspaper reported.
The Home Builders Association of St. Louis is not opposed to offering homeowners the option of upgrading the energy efficiency of their homes, but has objected to a government edict requiring it.
The regional HBA’s executive vice president, Patrick Sullivan, told St. Louis Public Radio last week that for some homeowners, affordability trumps energy efficiency — and they should have a choice.
“What may seem to be insignificant upfront cost barriers to the Sierra Club are very real barriers to millions of American families, who must actually pay their housing expense," Sullivan said. "As upfront prices go up, more families — especially lower-income families — are forced to continue living in older, less-energy efficient housing because that is all they can afford."
Environmentalists have countered that the upgrades would save homeowners approximately $436 a year on their energy bills — an amount that would pay for the code-related added cost in less than five years.
The St. Louis County’s Building Code Review Committee has not yet submitted its official recommendation to the full county Building Commission, who must then approve it and pass it along to the County Council. The Post-Dispatch said the commission will likely not submit its recommendations until late 2015 or early 2016.