New bill could remove politics from Pennsylvania's broken building codes process

Sep 19, 2013, 15:10 ET from PennFuture

Bill proposed by Sen. McIlhinney driven by concern for health and safety of citizens and energy efficiency of buildings

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  Next week, the Senate Labor and Industry Committee will hear testimony on Sen. Chuck McIlhinney's (R-Bucks) bill that would revamp Pennsylvania's building code adoption process by allowing the Review and Advisory Committee (RAC) tasked with updating building codes in the state to return to an automatic code adoption process for triennial codes as set forth by the International Codes Council (ICC). The committee hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, September 24 in Harrisburg.

"It's inexcusable that Pennsylvania is operating with out-of-date building codes because an unelected group of industry representatives decided code updates were not in their best interests," said Andrew Sharp, southeastern Pennsylvania outreach coordinator for PennFuture. "Not adopting revised codes every three years puts Pennsylvanians at risk in addition to forgoing key energy savings for homeowners. Maintaining modern building codes is in the best interest of the public, so why isn't Pennsylvania doing so?"

Ahead of the hearing, PennFuture announced the launch of, a web portal which aims to inform the public about the importance of modern building codes and how Pennsylvania has put building industry profits above the safety, well being, and economic benefit of its citizens.

Codes contain a set of minimum requirements for design and construction of new buildings including standards for electrical, plumbing and energy performance that help ensure the safety and energy efficiency of buildings. New codes also help grow the economy by creating demand for skilled workers and high-quality building materials.

Unfortunately, changes to the building code update process made through Act 1 of 2011 -- which gave an unelected advisory committee authority over the code adoption process -- are preventing our state from maintaining the latest codes. Our current codes are out of date and, absent any action, Pennsylvania will be doomed to the building code dark ages.

Pennsylvanians are invited to take action at and encourage their elected leaders to update our building codes now.

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization founded in 1998 with offices in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre. PennFuture's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state, and federal courts; advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level; public education; and assisting citizens in public advocacy.

The Philadelphia Inquirer called PennFuture the "state's leading environmental advocacy organization;" the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette named the organization "one of the 10 most influential groups on the issue of natural gas drilling;" and StateImpact Pennsylvania, an online collaboration of NPR stations across the state, called PennFuture "the commonwealth's main environmental advocate."

Elaine Labalme

SOURCE PennFuture