Washington’s Stricter Building Energy Code Withstands Legal Challenge

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A federal court judge in Tacoma has ruled that revisions to Washington’s building energy code properly set energy efficiency standards for new residential construction in the state that are more strict than federal rules. The decision by Judge Robert Bryan rejected the Building Industry Association of Washington’s (“BIAW”) lawsuit that asserted the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (“EPCA”) preempts state imposition of higher standards. The decision now clears the way for implementation of the new state code.

In addition to establishing federal energy efficiency guidelines for residential appliances, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning (“HVAC”) equipment, EPCA directed the states to adopt and periodically revise their building energy codes to comply with the Council of American Building Officials’ Model Energy Code. While EPCA prohibits imposing state regulations stricter than the Model Energy Code, it does allow for exceptions subject to a state code meeting several enumerated requirements.

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