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To Build Energy Efficient Homes We Need to Focus on Science, Not Ideology

builders series

SPOKANE, Washington - With housing prices already squeezing many buyers out of the market, Washington State's energy codes will shut the door on more buyers with ‘misguided energy ideologies’.

Energy efficiency and carbon neutralization are important objectives that the whole community can get behind, builders and buyers alike. However, the recent energy codes enacted on February 1st of this year have resulted in over 75,000 homebuyers statewide being priced out of the market, according to recent data released by the National Association of Home Builders. This carbon emission enforcement comes amidst a record housing shortage and skyrocketing home prices in an already volatile market... and the Spokane Home Builders Association believes science should be driving the conversation.

Yesterday, the Spokane Home Builders Association, in partnership with Avista, hosted a panel with local home builders explaining in more detail the impact of energy code regulations that went into effect earlier this year. What came into focus as the panelists discussed the issue at hand is that the cost of building continues to skyrocket, putting pressure on an already fractured housing market, due in large part to ideological government mandates that further tax a stressed system. However, if we focus on science and data we can accomplish the intent of the codes and it really becomes a win/win all around.

Sadly, not only are buyers taking the brunt of the cost burden, their options and amenities in their dream home are taken away leaving them with expensive add-ons that limit what they want in a home. Even worse, these Energy Codes fail to make homes more “green” or energy efficient according to a report that was released in September by UC Davis.* Even more shocking is the long term impact. If addressing climate change is the goal and reducing natural gas consumption is the means, we will still miss the mark. Avista projects that electric utilities will need to increase their use of natural gas in order to meet peak demand. “If all of our natural gas customers converted to electrical,” Collins Sprague, Senior Director of Government Relations for Avista, said, “our peak load on our electric system would almost double... and the costs are going to be [put] on all our customers.”

With home prices already unattainable for many residents, and the prospect of energy costs increasing, these involuntary add-ons will further restrict those looking to buy a home that meets their budget. “[Home Buyers] could find more options, but they’re not allowed to choose those options,” Ben McGerty of Hayden Homes said. “That choice is being taken away from them with the increased cost of energy codes.”

The need to shift our focus to science and away from politics is immediate. In order to achieve more energy efficiency and reduce carbon use in residential homes, codes need to focus on intent over ideology. Otherwise the housing market in Washington will not be able to thrive as buyers will simply be pushed away to different markets, as we are already seeing in Post Falls.

Other topics by the Panel include:
- How energy efficiency and building codes will impact the future of home buying in Washington state.
- The immediate need to build faster, better, and more energy efficient housing.
- The long-term effects the decisions being made in Olympia will have, not only on new homes in the area, but on the resale and rental markets at large.

Go to to view the full panel discussion.

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