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New residential water heater energy-efficiency standards that go into effect April 16 will require changes to the installation of many residential water heaters. Most water heaters with a capacity of 55 gallons or less will require more installation space, and those larger than 55 gallons in capacity will see additional, more significant changes. However, products manufactured before April 16 can still be bought and installed after the changeover date.

These new efficiency standards will require much higher Energy Factor (EF) ratings for larger water heaters, making a huge impact, especially on how these types of water heaters are manufactured, distributed, installed and/or vented.

The more common-sized water heaters of 55 gallons or less will likely be larger by roughly 2 inches in height and diameter to account for the additional insulation needed to meet the new standard. This may require builders to account for the increased size in their design.

 

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NAHB is digging into a new Executive Order that could have a significant impact on how and where our members develop, build and remodel homes and communities near coasts and rivers.

On Jan. 30, President Obama signed Executive Order (EO) 13690, part of the Administration’s plans to improve climate resiliency as directed by the President’s Climate Action Plan.

It updates a 1977 EO that required federal agencies to do what they could to preserve the nation’s floodplains — areas subject to a 1% chance or greater of flooding in any given year — and limit their development where possible.

The new EO creates a new Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) for all federally approved or funded projects and significantly expands the areas to be protected. Federal agencies will have three options for establishing the new FFRMS elevation and flood hazard area:

  • Climate-informed Science Approach. Using the best-available data and methods to forecast changes from flooding.
  • Freeboard Value Approach. Adding an additional 2 or 3 feet to the base flood elevation of the 100-year flood (see right).
  • 500-year Elevation Approach. The area subject to flooding by the 0.2%-annual-chance flood.

And while the Administration has stated that the EO is targeted to federally financed projects, NAHB is concerned that the scope could be much broader: A strict reading implies it could include homes built under FHA and HUD housing programs and the National Flood Insurance Program. And conceivably it could affect permitting under the Clean Water Act — if all waters in floodplains are subject to federal jurisdiction, if the new Waters of the United States definitions are finalized as proposed — and the Endangered Species Act, because the floodplain is identified as critical habitat for many listed species.

The Administration said it wants to hear from those affected by the EO and plans a series of “listening sessions” around the country. The first one will be held in Ames, Iowa on March 3, with additional sessions scheduled through the remainder of the month.

Members can comment in writing, too, and those comments are due April 6. Get details from this Federal Register notice and this FEMA fact sheet.

For more information contact Owen McDonough, Program Manager, Environmental Policy at 202-266-8662 or Billie Kaumaya, Federal Legislative Director, at 202-266-8570.

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