Builders Block New Energy Code

February 25, 2005
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LANSING — The changes in the Michigan Uniform Energy Code homebuilders had been bracing for will not go into effect today due to the preliminary success late last week of a lawsuit by the Michigan Association of Home Builders (MAHB).

Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Joyce Dragonchuck granted the MAHB's request for a preliminary injunction against the State Department of Labor and Economic Growth Thursday, blocking the adoption of Chapter 11 of the International Residential Code as the state's new energy code.

The MAHB claimed that the new code violated state law by not following the process to amend the code as established in 1995 and, if enacted, would drastically impact future purchasers of homes and remodeling services.

"We now have the opportunity to prove in court that the regulations are too costly," said MAHB CEO Lynn Egbert. "The state's regulations would stop thousands of first-time homebuyers from achieving the American dream of owning their own home."

The crux of the suit is MAHB's objection to the new code's seven-year cost analysis as performed by the state.

Four home energy raters examined 10 Michigan homes built to the new code's specifications.

Seven-year projections for the Grand Rapids test examining both a prescriptive and a performance method of applying the changes, respectively, showed an increased cost of $3,733 and $1,741 to the homeowner, plus tax and utility savings of $2,923 and $2,878, equaling a loss of $810 for the prescriptive method and a savings of $1,137 for the performance method.

The $810 loss was one of two losses in the 20 tests.

The average savings to the homeowner was $1,046, according to the study.

Using this measure, the state determined that the new code could produce net savings of $3.7 billion in energy bills over the next 30 years.

"This was a forward-looking and much-needed standard that would promote long-term home affordability and ownership," said Tom Leonard, executive director of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. "We have confidence that a good uniform energy (program) that helps people to afford their homes over the long-term will happen here in West Michigan

"It means more affordable homes for the people that buy them. This is just one of the ways this country can conserve energy and become energy independent, and it will save us pollution and environmental issues in the long haul."

A trial date has not been set.

The Lansing-based law firm of McClelland & Anderson is representing the MAHB.    

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