The International Code Council (ICC) Posts Preliminary Results on the Group A Set of Codes Including  the International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC).
The ICC has posted the preliminary
on line voting results for the Group A set of codes. The bad news is that  FG2-21 that was approved by the  IFGC Code Development Committee and that would have  reinstated the  provisions to allow natural gas piping to penetrate below grade applications was overturned and denied at the  Public Comment Hearing and  then the denial was upheld  by the Group A Online Governmental Consensus Vote (OGCV). There is still an option of adding an amendment to the IFGC when it is being considered by state adoptions (some states have already added this amendment under adoption of previous editions) and AGA BECS staff is available to assist in developing a proposed state amendment if requested.    All of the remaining IFGC proposals were acted on in favor of the AGA positions. The other good news was that our proposal  to the International Plumbing Code (P9-21)  that was approved by the International Plumbing Committee Code Development Committee was given approval at the Public Comment Hearing and  by the Group A Online Governmental Consensus Vote (OGCV).    PG-9  will require insulated copper tracer wires or another approved conductor installed for plastic sewer piping that will help in locating the buried piping and can  minimize cross boring incidents with buried natural gas lines. Keep in mind that these are preliminary results and still need to certified. But once certified and assuming no successful appeals, the approved provisions will appear in the next editions of the IFGC and IPC.

Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC) Hosting Gas Range and Indoor Air Quality Meetings with Stakeholders.
The CPSC has recently begun hosting meetings with a number of stakeholders on gas ranges and indoor air quality.  Attached is the CPSC Gas Range and IAQ Log of the October 13, 2021 virtual meeting that states the purpose of the meetings as  “CPSC is working with stakeholders to form a joint task force on IAQ and gas ranges. This task force would focus on making recommendations to various affected voluntary standards and code bodies to improve IAQ in homes from emissions from gas ranges.” AGA staff has been in contact with the CPSC staff responsible for this activity requesting consideration of representation on the IAQ and gas range joint task force being formed and we were invited to participate in the next virtual meeting of the group scheduled for Monday, December13. We will provide updates on the discussions and recommendations that come out of this and future meetings.

American Public Gas Association, Spire Inc., Meet Virtually with DOE General Counsel to Discuss Interpretive Rule on Separate Product Classes for Gas Furnaces and Water Heaters.
On November 23rd, APGA  and Spire Inc., staff and outside counsels  meet virtually with the DOE General Counsel to discuss “matters concerning DOE’s authority to effect appliance standards for natural gas equipment” and particularly the DOE determination of recognizing separate product classes for natural gas condensing and non-condensing residential furnaces and commercial water heater. As a reminder, on  January 15, 2021 DOE issued a final interpretive rule in theFederal Register that “decided to issue a final interpretive rule (attached) determining that, in the context of residential furnaces, commercial water heaters, and similarly-situated products/equipment, use of non-condensing technology (and associated venting) constitute a performance-related “feature” under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) that cannot be eliminated through adoption of an energy conservation standard. In light of this final interpretation, also  published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register DOE withdrew its March 12, 2015 proposed rule and September 23, 2016 supplemental proposed rule for energy conservation standards for non-weatherized gas furnace and mobile home gas furnaces, as well as its May 31, 2016 proposed rule for energy conservation standards for commercial water heating equipment.”  The BECS Committee advocated the DOE issuance of separate product classes for condensing type and non-condensing type vented gas appliances and equipment for over 10 years and this recognition by DOE  for the justification of separate product classes was the culmination of a long and intensive effort not only by AGA but by the American Pubic Gas Association, National Propane Gas Association,  National Gas Supply Association, National Association of Home Builders,  and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association.  However, under the new administration,  DOE has indicated it is reconsidering that interpretive rule and may revert back to eliminating the interpretation.   The APGA and Spire Inc. staff requested that DOE preserve the final interpretive rule and presented a PowerPoint presentation to support that request. Attached is the November 24, 2021 required   “Ex Parte Communication on Department of Energy Matters” that was filed by APGA on the meeting and includes the detailed Power Point presentation on the rationale for retaining the January 15, 2021 interpretive rule.

CSA Group Joint Technical Committees Meeting
On December 2, 2021, the CSA Joint Technical Committees (Z21/83 and CSA Gas) held their annual meeting. AGA BECS Committee staff along with some BECS Committee members serve on the Z21/83 Committee. It was reported that the Renewable Gas Research Project is complete and is currently in the production phase. CSA Group anticipates it publication no later than January 2022. AGA will provide a link to the research report to the BECS members once it is published.  Also of interest to the BECS Committee are the following :

  • A working group was formed to develop a plan on implementing hydrogen and hydrogen blends in the CSA Group fuels and appliances standards.
  • Several CSA technical committees, including those for the Canadian gas code B149.1, the Canadian energy efficient standards, and the gas and oil and pipelines systems Z662, are also addressing provisions for hydrogen and hydrogen-blends. CSA Group is taking a cross-sector approach and intends to implement an industry-wide strategy.
  • A working group was formed to develop a research proposal to address the lifespan of non-metallic venting materials and systems. Once written, the proposal will be submitted to the CSA Research Group for consideration.
  • CSA Group is considering a proposal to restructure the fuels and appliance standards structure to emulate the ISO/IEC structure, with a standard for common items and supplementary standards for each specific appliance or accessory. If approved, this will affect how the CSA standards are referenced in the model codes.

We will update the BECS Committee on the progress of these activities.

Report of the ASHRAE 62.2 SSPC Meeting
As previously reported,  AGA submitted comments to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) opposing a proposal to the societies “ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.2, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Residential Buildings” that would prohibit the installation of unvented (sometimes referred to as vent-free) natural gas and propane space heaters.  The ASHRAE Standard 62.2 is an American National Standard (ANS) consensus developed standard that has been and continues to be adopted by many states and jurisdictions throughout the United States. Yesterday, the ASHRAE 62.2 SSPC discussed public review comments submitted on proposed Addendum  J, which if approved would ban the installation of vent-free appliances in 62.2 compliant buildings. More than 50 comments objecting to the proposed ban  were submitted on the proposal including AGA’s opposition to approval of Addendum J,  with comments ranging from recommendations to withdraw Addendum J to recommendations to modify the Addendum to only allow vent-free appliances that are tested and certified to CSA/ANSI standard Z21.11.2 and are installed in compliance with the National Fuel Gas Code requirements and manufacturers installation requirements. A straw poll of the membership narrowly indicated that the 62.2 SSPC members want to continue with Addendum J as currently written. The SSPC 62.2 will continue reviewing all comments on the proposal and will have to respond to all public comments. Our future actions on this issue will depend on the recommendation the SSPC 62.2 committee finalizes.