Pennsylvania Opens Communication with Energy Raters/Auditors

codewatcher pennsylvania act 36

Here are the highlights of Pennsylvania’s recent Act 36, updating the PA UCC.

Pennsylvania – In late October, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 36, amending the PA Uniform Construction Code (UCC) and the process by which the Commonwealth reviews and adopts updated versions of the ICC codes. The Act, which was effective immediately, made extensive revisions, which we’ll attempt to summarize here (bold text = additions):

a. The Uniform Construction Code Review and Advisory Council is now directed to “gather
information from… construction trades and consumer representatives concerning issues
with the Uniform Construction Code raised by council members or changes proposed by
members of the General Assembly.” This would seem to formally open the channels of communication with energy raters/auditors, as well as advocacy groups representing energy efficiency and homeowners.

b. Council appointments will no longer be made solely by the Governor. While the State’s top politician will still have the authority to appoint 17 members of the Council, other State leaders will now get an appointment:
i. the President pro tempore of the Senate (residential general contractor)
ii. Minority Leader of the Senate (2nd or 3rd class city official)
iii. Speaker of the House of Representatives (nonresidential general contractor)
iv. Minority Leader of the House of Representatives (“recognized ability and experience in construction trades so as to represent employees in the industry”)

With this change, the Council expands by two members. Those two new seats are a representative from an association for building owners & managers, and the House Minority Leader’s appointee. The rest of the Council will retain its same membership makeup. Because of the expansion, the new quorum is now 11.

c. It used to be that removal from the Council was only allowed through “just cause by the Governor”. Now, absences can get you kicked off the Council. And, sadly, they had to add this sentence: “A council member who does not meet the qualifications of their
appointment shall be removed.”

d. To help with attendance, Council members are now allowed to attend via phone or video conference, and can cast votes over the phone or electronically.

e. An entire section on technical advisory committees has been added.

f. The Council shall commence its review of the updated sections 21 months following the publication of a new edition of the ICC codes. However, the process is only starting then. A 120-day period to receive comments from Council members and the general public regarding the updated sections shall commence 30 days following the start of the Council’s review. After the expiration of the public comment period, the Chair shall assign each updated section to its respective technical advisory committee. The technical advisory committee’s recommendations shall be posted at least 10 business days prior to holding the first hearing. After submission of all recommendations of the technical advisory committees, the Council shall hold at least three public hearings. Upon completion of the hearings, the Council shall hold one or more official meetings of the Council to decide whether to adopt, reject or modify the updated sections and any related section. Finally, the Council shall submit a report to the secretary within the 24-month period following the commencement of the review process by the Council. So, if you’re following along with your calendar, the State would be adopting a code almost 4 years after its publication. Put another way, they would be adopting a new State code 1 year after the publication of the most current model codes.

g. The terms of all Council members end on June 30, 2020.

h. A city of the first class may enact an ordinance that adopts provisions of the 2018 ICC triennial codes for non-residential buildings. Apparently, residential buildings have to wait to get updated. The PA UCC Review and Advisory Council has just begun to re-evaluate the 2015 I-codes for adoption as the PA UCC. There will be a 30-day public comment period from mid-December through mid-January, and a public hearing will be held in Harrisburg on February 13, 2018.