Code intended to conserve energy consumption draws criticism from residents
Hilo, Hawaii – Video by David Corrigan
The Department of Public Works held two talk-story sessions this week – one in Hilo and one in Kona – to talk about the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for new and renovated buildings.
The code, crafted with energy efficiency in mind, was set to take effect on Hawaii Island on May 11, 2010.
However, community concerns about parts of the code led to the drafting of Bill 234, which postpones the institution of the code until January 1, 2011. The bill was introduced by the office of district 5 councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason. Some members of the community felt the code was not a good fit for life on the Big Island, and objected to new requirements that would potentially increase construction costs.
County Public Works Director Warren Lee and Howard Wiig, Institutional Energy Analyst for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism were both at the Hilo talk story. Wiig told the concerned citizens in attendance that residents would be able to opt out with a letter from an architect, on the condition that the new home would not use air conditioning or central heating systems. The first video shows Wiig explaining this to the crowd.
Residents still had plenty of questions for Wiig, as shown in the second video. “Chief among the concerns expressed,” wrote legislative aid to Naeole-Beason, RJ Hampton, “was the exclusion of the simple statement that a non conditioned structure would be exempt from the code. When finally we arrived at the ‘whys and wherefores’ as to the rationale behind the removal of that simple statement we were left with a broader understanding. Apparently the State of Hawaii adopted a policy that requires all counties to adopt the code. Additionally, if changes were made to the code it had to be measured against whether or not it was equal to or greater than the standards set out in the State’s policy, which is actually greater than that of the Federal Government!”
Loud groans erupted from the crowd anytime Wiig compared the Big Island’s situation with Oahu. “Finally” Hampton added, “we realized we must move the focus from the local level to the state level. It was suggested this could best be done via a ‘task force’. Convening a task force could establish the code — as it currently stands — is not feasibly or reasonably applicable to Hawaii county.”
The bill gets a second reading in front of the county council next week.