Water Conservation Creeps Into Hawaii’s Code Discussions

Hawaii addresses water conservation and extends building code adoption cycle from 18 to 24 months.

In mid-July, the Hawaii Governor signed HB 637 into law, effective immediately. The bill calls for the State Building Code Council to adopt codes or standards within two years of official publication of a respective code or standard. If the Council doesn’t act, then “that code or standard shall automatically become part of the Hawaii state building code until superseded by the adoption of an amended version of the code or standard by the council”.

The bill also allocates $60,000 to the Council to fulfill its duties, which could include the hiring of a full-time employee.

Two items of note here. The first is that this bill actually extends the code adoption cycle in Hawaii from 18 months to 24. The second is the motivation for this bill. Section 1 of the bill reads (in part):

“The Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment reports that throughout the Pacific region, warmer and drier conditions will result in drought and rising temperatures, thus causing a decrease of fresh water supplies.

Hawaii needs to make changes that will increase its ability to capture, store, and efficiently use fresh water. Among the least expensive and most efficient ways to increase the supply of fresh water are water conservation and reuse. An important component in the conservation and reuse of water is the timely adoption of amendments to the state building codes, which include the Uniform Plumbing Code, to encourage water resource conservation, improvements to water distribution systems, and recovery of used water.

The purpose of this Act is to expedite the review, updating, and adoption of appropriate updates to the state building codes.”

We often report on energy codes, but we’re seeing water efficiency and conservation creep into the conversation, whether that conversation is about regulations or incentives. We strongly believe this is a trend that will only gain momentum.