Pennsylvania’s building code adoption process is tainted by unprecedented access and control from the Pennsylvania Builders Association, subject to lack of impartiality from Advisory Council leadership, and generally beyond repair. Legislation establishing a new and workable system is the only path forward.
As of midday on May 20, the Building Codes Review and Advisory Council (RAC) adopted a random selection of provisions amounting to less than ten out of 1,900 code updates, some of which serve to weaken safety and energy efficiency in our state.
Unprecedented access by the Pennsylvania Builders Association (PBA)
Through a series of correspondence obtained via a Right to Know Law (RTKL) request submitted by PennFuture, it was discovered that the Pennsylvania Builders Association (PBA) continues to receive unprecedented access, and impose inside influence, on Pennsylvania's (broken) building codes adoption process. Actions include inviting members of the RAC to a series of special Uniform Construction Code review meetings held by a PBA subcommittee.
Lack of Impartiality from RAC Leadership
The porous codes adoption process is also tainted by the revelation that leaders of the RAC provided advice to the PBA on how to frame their argument against the energy efficiency code updates before the Council. This lack of impartiality further undermines confidence that the current system can adopt codes that are in the best interests of Pennsylvania.
A system beyond repair
The wolves are guarding the sheep as the PBA fends off common sense code changes that may mean lower profits for them but safer and more efficient homes for us. How did this happen? The PBA has stacked the deck against Pennsylvanians through its unprecedented influence on the codes adoption process and via legislation that puts veto power in the hands of home builders and their allies, who make up one-third of the RAC. All this while proposing additional legislative action to stretch out consideration of new codes to once every six years, further guaranteeing complete control over the process.
Pennsylvania needs legislation to reinstate a predictable, transparent, uniform process to guarantee that all of our structures are built in accordance with the newest and best building codes. We must return to a process in which modern codes are adopted with adequate review.
Evan Endres is program manager for PennFuture and is based in Pittsburgh. He tweets @ER_Endres.