Hawaii County Misses Deadline For Cost-Saving Code Changes

Aug 19, 2019

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii  — A new statewide energy code could increase the cost of home building after officials missed a deadline to enact exemptions on Hawaii Island, a report said.

Hawaii County failed to meet a two-year deadline to implement changes to the International Energy Conservation Code, West Hawaii Today reported Sunday.

Neither the county council nor the public works department initiated a new law to make changes, while Maui and Kauai passed bills to lessen the code's impact.

"Being that other county governments were able to do this, I don't see any reason why it can't be done here," said Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy.

The updated code that went into effect last week requires double-paned windows and completely sealed houses with fully insulated walls, floors and roofs. The change will reduce energy use by almost a third, saving more than $1 billion in statewide energy costs over 20 years, officials said.

A "Tropical Zone" option takes into account houses at or below 2,400 feet (732 meters) of elevation. The rules usually require a window style that could triple costs. The ventilation requirements alone could add almost $10,000 to the cost of a two-bedroom package home, one architect said.

Closing houses and installing drywall is unsustainable because it raises energy costs and encourages mold, fungus and insects, code opponents said.

The code forces builders into a one-size-fits-all design created for mainland structures in harsher climates, said architect Charles Traylor.

"The best thing to do with the International Energy Code and the International Building Code is tear it up and throw it away and use a code that's meant for tropical climates," Traylor said.