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BBRS Extends Concurrency Period for Energy Code

By July 22, 2020 No Comments

The state Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) recently adopted an emergency regulation to extend the concurrency period of the new energy code for three months. The board’s action at its meeting on July 14 came at the urging of the HBRAMA and NAIOP Massachusetts, as well as other organizations.

The BBRS had announced in January that the 2018 version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) would be adopted with an effective date of February 7, 2020. As with previous code adoptions, the board also adopted a 6-month concurrency period that allows all projects that file for permits between February 7, 2020 and August 7, 2020 to use either the Massachusetts amended 2015 IECC or the Massachusetts amended 2018 IECC. The board’s vote extends that concurrency period to November 7, 2020.

Homebuilders and remodelers are facing enormous challenges to the way they do business in Massachusetts due to COVID-19. Some municipalities are still not accepting permit applications due to public health concerns. Other cities and towns suspended holding public hearings on applications for permits that had been filed before the declaration of a state of emergency by Gov. Baker on March 10. Consequently, residential and commercial projects that had initially planned to move forward using the existing code have been prevented from doing so.

Redesigning these projects now could potentially jeopardize them from ever moving forward even after the state of emergency is lifted. And the backlog of permit applications will be extensive when it is lifted, causing further delays and exacerbating the current housing shortage.

The HBRAMA had sought a 1-year extension of the concurrency period. The BBRS, however, could only extend the period through an emergency regulation for a maximum of 90 days. A longer extension requires the board to formally amend its regulations. The HBRAMA continues to advocate for a longer extension and has been informed that the BBRS may hold a public hearing to consider doing so at its next meeting on August 14.

A copy of the letter from the HBRAMA can be found here.