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After a COVID-induced delay, an administrative law judge held a hearing on Monday Aug. 3 to determine whether or not Minnesota should adopt a new residential energy code. The hearing was required under federal law and included a review of the D.S. Department of Energy’s model code utility bill savings.
This hearing and the current public comment period are being used to form an recommendation by an administrative law judge to the Commissioner of Labor and Industry. The ultimate decision on proceeding with the adoption of a new residential energy code lies with Commissioner Leppink.
The 90-minute hearing included opening comments from Commissioner Nancy Leppink and Scott McLellan, chief building official as well as testimony from interested parties.
In the Department’s comments, McLellan pointed out that the anticipated cost savings in the U.S Department of Energy’s analysis will actually be lower in Minnesota for two reasons. Most new homes are built with window U-factors below the code requirements and the proliferation of LED lighting.
Housing First Minnesota provided the initial public testimony and set the tone for the remainder of the hearing. Nick Erickson, director of research and regulatory affairs at Housing First Minnesota, said that the State of Minnesota is grappling with a three-prong housing crisis: the starkest racial inequities in housing in the nation, one of the lowest available inventories in the Unites States and the highest construction and development costs in the region.
The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and the Responsible Energy Code Alliance testified for adopting a new energy code. Administrative Law Judge Eric Lippman asked the pro-energy code groups to respond to Housing First Minnesota’s affordability, availability and equity concerns.
Two representatives of the Association of Minnesota Building Officials and the Builders Association of Minnesota joined Housing First Minnesota in opposing the adoption of a new energy code.
In July, Housing First Minnesota sent a letter to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry and Judge Lippman opposing the adoption of a new residential energy code. The letter is available for download here.
Housing First Minnesota is working with a coalition of industry organizations on a coordinated response. The comment window for interested parties to comment on the need of a new residential energy code closes on Aug. 24, and Housing First Minnesota will be supplying members with information on submitting comments in the coming days.
There will be a five day rebuttal comment period following the Aug. 24 comment period. The judge’s recommendation is expected early this fall.