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State wants to improve energy efficiency, but builders object

The proposed rules would mean tighter energy efficiency requirements for new homes and offices.
David Boraks
The proposed rules would mean tighter energy efficiency requirements for new homes and offices.

The North Carolina Building Code Council is considering tightening energy efficiency requirements for new homes and offices that could cut energy costs and help slow climate change. But at a public hearing Tuesday, home builders fought the idea.

The council heard public comments on changes designed to bring North Carolina rules up to international standards. Walls, roofs, insulation, windows and heating and cooling systems would have to meet stricter requirements for energy efficiency.

Rita Joynerwith the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association said the rules would replace outdated ones based on 2009 standards.

"If I were to tell you I'm going to give you a cellphone, I'm going to give you a car, I'm going to give you anything that is of the 2009 standard … you would say I don't want that," said Joyner, who serves on the ad-hoc committee that drafted the rules.

Home builders oppose the measure. They say it would add $20,400 to the cost of an average-sized house and price many North Carolinians out of homeownership.

But an Energy Department study for the council found the changes would save home and business owners on energy bills, especially as electric rates in North Carolina rise. Supporters say the measure also would create jobs, improve air quality and help the state meet its climate goals.

The council is expected to vote on the rules in June.


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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.