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Summer 2016 GGAC Update

Northeastern Oklahoma Chapter Builds Advocacy Connections

by Chad Smith

Northeastern Oklahoma Chapter

Grassroots Government Advocacy Committee (GGAC) chair

"If you build it, they will come." That line from Field of Dreams is a pretty good illustration of the growth of our GGAC program over the last few years. I have served as the GGAC Chair for the last three years for our Chapter and have realized one thing to remember during this time; you build your GGAC program and relationships over a long period of time, so that you are prepared to respond when the time calls for it.

We have maintained connections with both municipal and State officials and kept them familiar with ASHRAE and presented ourselves as resources for them if ever needed. We have shared Society's position briefs with them and invited them to Chapter meetings when we had speakers who may provide benefit to them. But it wasn't until this year, that all those efforts came into play for our Chapter.

In November, the State of Oklahoma adopted the 2015 version of the International Code Council codes (Building Code (IBC), Existing Building (IEBC), Mechanical Code (IMC), Plumbing Code (IPC), Fire (IFC), Fuel Gas (IFGC) and Electrical (ICCEC)). This adoption was significant as the State was previously on the 2009 version of the IBC and only the 2006 version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). However, the IECC was not included in this adoption. This was the result of an interpretation of the Assistant Attorney General, as to whom had the proper authority to adopt codes, and as a result, the State defaulted to the previously adopted 2006 IECC.

We hosted the State Secretary of Energy, Michael Teague, to speak along with Society President-Elect Tim Wentz, at our January meeting. Teague discussed his vision for the energy environment for the State, part of which is impacted by maintaining building and energy codes. 

It only makes good sense to make sure our building and energy codes are kept current so that our infrastructure stays in line with current technologies in the industry, Secretary Teague stated.

This also tied in well with the Society position brief on energy efficiency for buildings and equipment. Wentz spoke on the Society's views and how they fall in line with Secretary Teague's vision.

Additionally, we were fortunate to have State Representative David Brumbaugh, District 76, who is also a longtime ASHRAE member, attend our January meeting and commit to work with us for our Day on the Hill activities in March.

We had coordinated a Day on the Hill with the Central Oklahoma Chapter back in February 2015. With that being our first event, the focus on the discussions were more about introducing ourselves to various legislators, making them aware of ASHRAE as an organization and offering ourselves as industry experts. But the 2016 Day on the Hill now had a purpose; to raise awareness for the need for the State to adopt the 2015 IECC along with the other sections of the International code already adopted. We had productive conversations and connected with nine different legislators involved with the Senate and House energy committees.

However, what we realized is that this adoption will likely require legislative action. Even though we had started planning in January, we now realize that is still not early enough when it comes to legislation. The Legislature convenes in early February, and all legislation to be considered for the coming session needs to be proposed and submitted prior to the session beginning.

 

The exciting part of our discussions is that Brumbaugh committed to work with us this summer and into the fall, and is willing to sponsor legislation to get the energy code adopted. One of the Chapter members who was part of the contingency at the Day on the Hill, Justin Stonehocker, said "It is clear to see that we have to be proactive as ASHRAE members to engage our government officials and educate them on the benefits of being proactive and not reactive with regards to energy issues. It is also rewarding to see how we can impact larger issues from the local level through ASHRAE."

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