POSTPONED: 6/29 Hearing on Proposed Ordinance 220364 (IECC 2021) On Energy Code for Better Buildings in KC

THE PROPOSED ORDINANCE 220364 ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY STANDARDS FOR THE KCMO BUILDING CODE (IECC 2021)IS BEING HELD BY THE COMMITTEE FOR A HEARING AFTER JULY 4.

Communities throughout the Kansas City metro area are mobilizing for climate action to ensure a future where EVERYONE in the community can thrive. The City of Kansas City, Missouri Neighborhood Planning & Development Committee has a chance to make a huge decision that could help this effort on June 29, when the committee will decide on a recommendation to the City Council on whether to adopt the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (2021 IECC) as part of its energy code, and further whether or not to include a Decarbonization Overlay to meet the city and regions climate action goals. This comes after two years of advocacy from community groups for the City Council to put people first by adopting sensible building codes that ensure commercial and residential buildings are built to last, keep people healthy and lower electric bills, and greatly reduce fossil fuel pollution. Now is the moment for all of us in the metro area to act and tell the KCMO City Council to be a leader and adopt the 2021 IECC with a Decarbonization Overlay to ensure buildings are built to last and accommodate increased solar power, electric appliances vehicles that don’t pollute the air. Read on and take a few minutes to act now!

Anyone can have an impact for the better in their community by lifting up their voice, so please consider making a public comment and encouraging friends and neighbors to do the same by sending an email and/or attending the public meeting on June 29 at 1:30pm to speak or show support for friends and neighbors who are speaking. Meeting location details, attendee instructions, talking points, sample comments are below. Reach out to Billy Davies at (847) 636-3642, or william.davies@sierraclub.org if you have any questions.

Send a Written Comment by June 27:

You do not need any specific expertise to make a comment. The key is to say why climate action and healthy buildings are important to YOU.

If you are not able to attend the meeting on June 29, or if you wish to send written comments in addition to attending the meeting, you can email comments to the City Clerk and council members to the City Clerk and Councilmembers no later than Midnight on June 27. There is no limit to the length of comments. Here are the email addresses for public testimony and for each council member and the city manager for easy sending: 

Give Verbal Comment on June 29:

You do not need any specific expertise to make a comment. The key is to say why climate action and healthy buildings are important to YOU.

Anyone can speak at the June 29 City Council Neighborhood Planning & Development Committee meeting by going in person or virtually (see instructions on next page). Please see the following instructions for how to access each public meeting, including the zoom link and how to request time to speak. 

  • In person: just arrive at Council Chambers at City Hall, 26th Floor, at 1:30pm or a little before, and wait until asked if anyone in the public wishes to speak on Ordinance 220364. There will be cards you can fill out to share with the Clerk to indicate you wish to speak, or you can wait until the committee calls for testimony.
  • Virtually: Anyone wishing to participate has the option of attending the meeting through the video conference platform ZOOM, using this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84530222968. Click “raise hand” to show you wish to speak.

If you require accommodations, “Any person with disability desiring reasonable accommodation to participate in this meeting may contact 311 at 311 or (816) 513-1313 for TTY 513-1889 or by email at actioncenter@kcmo.org.”

THANK YOU for taking the time to make your voice heard!

TALKING POINTS:

You can use these talking points if you would like, and feel free to make it personal. Use as many or as few points as you wish. You do not need any specific expertise to make a comment. The key is to say why climate action and healthy buildings are important to YOU.

Introduction and Ask (important that you ask the council to take action)

  • To support Kansas City’s goal to take bold climate action, Please adopt the 2021 IECC + Decarbonization Overlay.

Benefits of IECC + Decarbonization to Protect Residents and Meet Climate Goals

  • Residents from across the city of Kansas City, MO and the metro area have repeatedly called upon the City Council to take bold action to decarbonize our built environment and adopt strategies that will protect the health, both physical and financial, of their families, friends and neighbors while ensuring that our community is protected against impacts of climate change. This happened most recently on May 25 at a special hearing on building codes hosted by the Council where 24 people expressed the need for strong codes that address the climate crisis, 23 of whom explicitly called on the council to adopt the 2021 IECC with no weakening amendments to ensure the city seize this opportunity to advance its climate action goals. Adopting the 2021 IECC with a decarbonization overlay achieves just that.
  • The merits of the 2021 IECC and the need to evaluate and adopt it have been raised at numerous public meetings of the Kansas City Environmental Management Commission and the Climate Protection Plan Steering Committee over the last two years. Further, building codes are a critical component of local actions that reduce bills for residents while tackling climate change, and other government entities are mobilizing resources to support cities like Kansas City who take action. As decisions about buildings impact the built environment for decades to come, this is an opportunity for Kansas City to lead the region that will support the health and well-being of Kansas Citians now and in the future.
  • In addition to supporting healthy homes and climate action, adopting the 2021 IECC with a Decarbonization Overlay will protect the financial health of residents by helping lower utility bills as a result of vastly increased energy efficiency. Studies have repeatedly shown that the 2021 IECC will support lowering costs, and many jurisdictions in the nation are taking advantage of this benefit by adopting unamended or strengthened versions of the 2021 IECC. As Kansas Citians face some of the highest energy bills proportionate to income in the country, the Council must enact strong energy codes now for new buildings. Doing so would have great benefit in the long term and have only minor impacts on the short term as new buildings account for a small portion of home sales. This is critical for ensuring we conserve energy to avoid higher bills impacting residents and businesses in Kansas City.

Conclusion

  • For these reasons I ask the Council to please adopt the 2021 IECC + Decarbonization Overlay.
  • Thank you for your time.

Some points to consider in responding to arguments against strong energy codes and this proposed legislation:

  1. “No one will build in KCMO if this is adopted.” Only 9% of home sales in 2019 (before COVID disruption) were new homes, with an average sale price of $411K. Even the most aggressive estimates from home builders would make a minimal dent in a home selling at this value. The other 91% of home sales would not be impacted by this code. Updated energy code would apply to new homes, additions, and major (gut) renovations of residential and commercial structures. And cities in the region have repeatedly worked together to adopt updates close to each other. Other cities in the area, also committed to regional sustainability and climate action, will follow Kansas City, Missouri’s leadership. As the largest city, it is important that it set the bar high to protect our communities.
  2. “We will not be able to do home repairs affordably.” Updated energy code does NOT apply to minor home repairs, renovations, and other existing buildings in current operation.
  3. “This would mandate electric buildings.” This is NOT an electrification code. Natural gas is still allowed by this code. The Zero Code is a voluntary appendix (and is also NOT an electrification code) – it provides clarity on how to design and evaluate net-zero energy for developments seeking improved performance and allow greater flexibility for builders. Electric vehicle (EV) and solar ready photovoltaic (PV) ready provisions align with current structure and electrical standard practices and do not require any expensive changes to standard building methods. These sections are about being prepared for improvements in future investments, making them easy and inexpensive to incorporate later.
  4. “This hurts builders.” This code gives builders more flexibility and choice in how to comply with energy code than allowed in the current code, which is prescriptive, adding the option to use the point-based Energy Rating Index. So if a builder doesn’t want to use the prescriptive envelope requirements, there are simple tradeoffs that can be used to provide efficiency with equipment improvements, LED lighting, and/or better air-sealing practices (to name just a few examples). This will make our building economy stronger by ensuring they are built to the best standards and help KC pave the way for more job training for contractors.
  5. “Better energy efficiency and climate action causes price hikes.” Material prices are volatile right now due to global supply chain disruptions – but so are consumer energy costs at home and at the gas pump. Electrical rates increase at a steady rate, and while natural gas has been an affordable fuel for the past 10 years, its cost varies much more widely and also steadily increases. This variability makes month-to-month costs for owners and renters unpredictable. The 2021 IECC + Decarbonization OVerlay’s Improved home insulation and air sealing requirements will help reduce the monthly impacts of this variation while improving comfort and health.
  6. “This will make it hard to stop power outages.” Power outages during cold and hot weather extremes are increasing in Kansas City. Homes that are better insulated and air sealed are less likely to have cascade disasters such as frozen pipes, and more families are able to shelter in place during extreme weather as a result. Further, homes that are solar-ready can become more resilient over time based on private investment by home and business owners. Adopting this measure helps KC become MORE resilient to extreme weather, not less.
  7. “Better building energy requirements prices people out.” Kansas Citians, particularly low-income residents, face some of the highest energy burdens in the country. Ensuring our building stock (both new and existing) is energy efficient is essential to lowering energy bills.
  8. “Kansas Citians don’t want this.” Building decarbonization has been highlighted as a key implementation strategy in KCMO’s Climate Protection & Resiliency Plan, and the passage of this ordinance will be the city’s first opportunity to deliver on a key promise to protect Kansas Citians’ health and well-being for years to come. Kansas Citians, like most Americans, understand the urgency of tackling climate change locally and nationally, and they want their leaders to act accordingly.
  9. “This is too radical and no one else is doing this.” KC is not alone in taking bold action to decarbonize buildings and adopt modern codes that protect people. Cities like Louisville, KY, Austin, TX, and the state of Colorado have all adopted the 2021 IECC. The KC region has identified stronger energy codes, and specifically the 2021 IECC and decarbonization measures, as key strategies for cities, counties, and towns to implement in protecting communities, addressing the climate crisis, and building better buildings.
  10. “This costs too much.” Here are just a few of the many resources showing the cost benefits of the 2021 IECC: