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Building Industry Association of Washington v. Washington State Building Code Council

United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
2011 WL 485895 (2011)


In 1975, Congress enacted the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (ECPA), 42 U.S.C. § 6297, which was subsequently amended by Congress in 1992 with the Energy Policy Act (EPACT). The ECPA and EPACT established federal energy-efficiency standards and encouraged states to adopt energy-conservation codes to meet those standards. The ECPA included an express-preemption clause, prohibiting states from regulating the energy efficiency, energy use, or water use of certain products covered by the clause, which included heating equipment, refrigerators, air conditioners, and other types of domestic appliances. The preemption clause contained several exemptions, including an exemption for state or local building-code requirements for new construction if the code complied with the following seven requirements: (1) offering numerous options to meet energy-efficiency standards, (2) not expressly or effectively requiring efficiency levels beyond federal minimum standards, (3) being evenhanded in assigning credits, (4) not requiring the use of a single baseline building design, (5) offering an evenly balanced range of options, (6) measuring the energy-savings goal in energy use, and (7) using federal test procedures to measure energy use. In 2009, the Washington state legislature adopted amendments to its building-energy code. The Building Industry Association of Washington (Building Industry) (plaintiff) challenged the code in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington as per se preempted by the ECPA, arguing that the code’s requirements did not meet the ECPA’s seven-factor exemption test. Building Industry moved for summary judgment. Washington State Building Code Council, the Northwest Energy Coalition, the Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (defendants) cross-moved for summary judgment, arguing that the code did meet the seven-factor exemption test.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Bryan, J.)

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