• Washington State has postponed plans to enact a tough new energy code — designed to increase building energy efficiency by 30 percent — that was to have taken effect on July 1 of this year. Governor Christine Gregoire requested a nine-month delay from the state’s Building Code Council to allow the struggling construction industry a chance to gain strength; the council responded with a four-month postponement that may be extended for an additional five months. The new energy code is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit by the Building Industry Association of Washington, which maintains that the state has no authority to enact the measure because it exceeds federal energy efficiency standards.
• The chairman of the North Carolina Building Codes Council has vowed to take on the issue of vinyl siding melted by sunlight reflected from low-e windows (see “Low-E Windows Blamed for Melted Vinyl Siding,” JLC Report, 5/10). “We’re going to do it in a carrot-and-stick manner,” Dan Tingen told TV channel WCNC. “It’s going to be our job ... to resolve this thing.” The comment followed an incident in which Pulte Homes replaced melted siding on a Charlotte home after the homeowner, frustrated with the company’s response to complaints, distributed fliers with the bold headline “My home is melting … is yours?”
• Plumbing-fixture manufacturers are in an uproar over a recent “draft interpretive rule” from the DOE that redefines “showerhead” in a way that restricts multiple outlet devices — like those with separate hand-held sprayers — to a combined flow of 2.5 gallons per minute. Previously, higher flow rates were permissible as long as each individual outlet did not use more than 2.5 gpm. The agency will issue a final rule after considering input received during a public comment period that ended on June 19.
• South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has signed a bill that will delay a requirement for fire-sprinkler systems in new homes built in the state. The requirement is contained within the 2009 IRC, which the state adopted earlier this year for implementation in January 2011. Thanks to the new bill, however, the fire-sprinkler provision will not take effect until January 2014.
• The DOE has launched a volume-purchase program designed to increase the market share of high-efficiency R-5 (U-factor 0.2) windows by making them more affordable. A DOE website, www .windowsvolumepurchase.org, lists qualifying products from more than two dozen vendors who have agreed to sell at volume discounts to builders, government agencies, and consumers. The minimum purchase for new-construction applications is 20; for retrofit projects, it’s 15. The target price for the high-performance windows is approximately $4 per square foot above that of conventional windows.