High performance builders and architects call for legislation and law to change to protect homeowners in Vermont, especially after the dangers of spray foam insulation were revealed.

Architects and Builders Urge Action for Improved Construction Standards

Partially due to the recent spray foam insulation issues, a group of six builders and architects came together with a unanimous request during a recent hearing in Vermont. They appealed to the panel responsible for approving state regulations, urging them to delay the proposed energy code updates. Their rationale was rooted in the need for Vermont to first establish improved education, training, certification, and enforcement measures for builders before implementing these changes. The spray foam insulation failures served as an example of the issues that can arise without adequate knowledge and oversight in the construction industry.

What the public needs to know

When it comes to constructing or renovating a home, it is crucial to enlist the expertise of high-performance professionals to ensure the safety, quality, and energy efficiency of the project. Certified builders and architects passionately urged the legislative rules committee to postpone proposed updates until comprehensive measures for education, training, certification, and enforcement are implemented. Here are the key takeaways from the hearing, highlighting the importance of hiring high-performance experts for new home buyers. We want you to achieve their desired homes, meet climate objectives, and ensure long-term satisfaction.

  1. Delayed Updates: Builders and architects unanimously called for a delay in energy code updates until Vermont establishes improved education, training, certification, and enforcement practices.
  2. Homeowner Protection: A delay is necessary to safeguard Vermont homeowners from substandard weatherization and construction practices that could lead to hazardous conditions.
  3. Oversight Gap: Vermont lacks a government agency with authority to regulate energy codes, resulting in voluntary and inconsistent compliance by builders.
  4. Compliance Comparison: Massachusetts, in contrast, boasts nearly 100% compliance with energy codes due to rigorous inspection, certification, and training programs.
  5. Endangered Climate Goals: Inadequate oversight may lead many builders to disregard stricter energy codes, hindering Vermont’s progress toward its climate objectives.
  6. Potential Hazards: Well-intentioned contractors without proper training may unknowingly create risks such as mold, structural problems, and compromised air quality.
  7. Consumer Protection: The current energy code lacks sufficient consumer protection, placing the burden on homeowners to address failures and mold issues through costly litigation.
  8. Insurance Implications: Insurers may hesitate to cover residential homes in Vermont due to increased risks associated with mold and structural failures resulting from inadequate energy code implementation.
  9. Committee Formation: A recently passed housing bill mandates the establishment of a committee to study and recommend methods for enhancing awareness and compliance with the energy code.
  10. Critical Missing Elements: Vermont’s current energy code lacks essential components, including basic builder education, training for state staff, appeals and variance processes, conflict resolution, project review, construction inspection, certification, enforcement, and performance data.

The testimonies presented during the Vermont legislative rules committee hearing underscore the immediate need for effective oversight and enforcement of energy codes in the construction industry. By engaging the services of high-performance experts, new home buyers can ensure that their homes meet energy efficiency standards, prioritize safety, and contribute to Vermont’s climate goals. Insufficient education, training, and certification programs pose risks to homeowners, including mold issues, structural failures, and compromised air quality. It is imperative for Vermont to implement the recommendations of the newly formed committee to address these shortcomings and safeguard its residents. By prioritizing the involvement of high-performance experts, new home buyers can have peace of mind, knowing that their homes are constructed or renovated to the highest standards of quality, efficiency, and safety.

SEON (Sustainable Energy Outreach Network) certifies high-performance builders, architects, consultants – all the experts you need. Before you build, please reach out to our experts in high-performance building.

Source: Builders and architects plead for oversight at Vermont energy code hearing by Alden Wicker of VT Digger.


Shout out to our member, Jim Bradley (the founder of the building science consultancy Authenticated Building Performance Diagnostics in Cambridge), who provided testimony during the hearing, emphasizing the need for proper enforcement, training, and consumer protection in relation to energy codes in Vermont.

And shout out to our member, Efficiency Vermont, who continues to be at the forefront of making sure the public knows to hire high-performance builders.