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Pence extends minimum energy standards for buildings

January 4, 2017

Gov. Mike Pence has signed an executive order extending the state’s energy code for one year, a move that ensures developers of commercial buildings and apartments meet minimum standards for insulation, heating and air, and lighting.

Pence signed the order on Dec. 28, just days before the code was to expire and a week after critics said failing to do so could let unscrupulous builders cheat tenants and others of basic protections against weather.

In his executive order, Pence said the expiration of the rule would cause “an emergency to exist and creates a danger to commercial structures since they will not have energy compliance rules in place.”

IBJ reported on Dec. 21 that the Pence administration planned to let the energy code expire. John Erickson, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, said then that the move was necessary because two outside groups had requested changes in the standards that required the rulemaking to restart and be divided into two separate tracks.

But on Wednesday, Erickson said the existing rule was extended a year so it remains in force until Jan. 1, 2018. “The governor’s executive order is an extension to provide time to work through those two separate processes,” he said.

Meanwhile, the homeland security department is continuing to work on new outdoor event equipment rules that were prompted by the Indiana State Fair stage collapse in 2011, Erickson said.

Emergency rules put in place immediately after the incident, which killed seven people and injured dozens more, expired roughly a year ago, IBJ reported last month. Those rules had established stricter design and construction requirements for outdoor event equipment such as stage rigging.

Erickson said the agency has been working on new standards “for many months” and anticipates the rule will take effect in May, meaning it will apply to outdoor stage installations in the 2017 outdoor event season.

Indianapolis developer Craig Von Deylen, a member of the State Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission, told IBJ last month that he was disappointed the state “let the rule lapse” and said the commission could have noticed the impending expiration of the rule and acted had it been provided adequate staff to do its job.

“People died in an incident in the state prior to that rule,” Von Deylen said. “It cost the state a considerable amount of money in both legal fees and settlements.”

State Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, has called for the General Assembly to pass a law that reestablishes the emergency stage rules. Lanane said he plans to introduce that bill.

“I was extremely surprised and disheartened to learn that the administration allowed these safety rules to lapse without bringing it to the attention of the General Assembly,” Lanane said in a statement. “The outdoor stage safety rules were a bipartisan effort to ensure tragedies like the 2011 Indiana State Fair collapse will not happen again.”

 

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