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Illinois Builders Brace for New Environmental Regulations

by Chicago Agent

By Peter Ricci

Builder confidence is one of the main areas of focus for real estate, and it will be particularly interesting how builders in Illinois react to a series of environmentally-conscious regulations currently working their way through the state government.

Sometime soon, the Illinois House is expected to approve the state’s adoption of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code, or IECC, which will go into effect January 1, 2013. Originally set to go into effect July 1 of this year, amendments in the Senate delayed the regulation’s adoption, though the bill, SB3724, did pass unanimously in the chamber.

The Home Builder’s Association lobbied to have the regulations delayed, so builders would have more time to acclimate themselves with the particulars, which include:

  • Increased R-values in attic to R49 from R38: Add $1,000
  • Increased R-values in basement to R15/19 from R10/3: Add $1,700
  • Mandatory blower-door and duct blaster tests: Add $1,000
  • Increased sealing of the house to meet the blower-door test requirement of three air changes per hour: Add $1,000
  • Mandatory duct sealing, even when completely in conditioned space: Add $500
  • Mandatory ducting and sealing of return air plenums and chases: Add $500
  • Mandatory HVAC equipment size using Manual J: Add $500

Those projects, and their accompanying costs, were provided to Builder magazine by Bill Ward, the HBA’s executive vice president, and were projected for a 2,000-square-foot home built in central Illinois. Builder also mentioned several other possible code changes that were pointed out by HVACR Business magazine, which include:

  • Exterior walls must have an R-value of either 20 or 13+5.
  • New wood-burning fireplaces must have right-fitting flu dampers and outside combustion air.
  • A minimum of 75 percent of permanent lamps must be rated high efficiency. And fuel gas ignition systems can’t use standing pilots.

The HBA, according to Builder‘s piece, tried to have several elements of the IECC altered, but it only succeeded on one count, in changing the blower-door test to five air changes per hour instead of three. Its other suggestions (including a prescriptive solution to the blower test) did not pan out, and now it’s set its sights on a proposed mandate to install fire sprinklers in all new residential construction, which will depend in large part on recommendations from the fire marshal’s upcoming report.

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