In the 2010 Legislative Session, the General Assembly passed Public Chapter No. 529, the Tennessee Clean Energy Future Act of 2009. Central to the bill, which amended T.C.A. § 68-120-101, are authorization for adoption of energy efficiency standards and implementation of the broadened statewide building standards that took effect July 1, 2010. Currently, state requirements apply only to municipal, county, state, and certain private buildings, newly constructed one- and two-family dwellings. and include regulation of various structural and safety factors.
Applicability of the standards, however, is not absolute as this legislation effectively created three classes of code enforcement across the state:
1. Exempt – Cities where local building codes and local code enforcement meet state minimum standards. These cities will continue to adopt and enforce their own building codes.
2. Nonexempt state enforcement – Cities where local residential building codes and local residential code enforcement do not meet minimum state standards. Here, at the request of the city or upon the department of commerce and insurance’s own initiative, the state will enforce state-adopted building codes.
3. Opt-out – Cities that have passed a resolution exempting their jurisdiction from the applicability of minimum state standards for one and two-family dwellings.
Cities can avoid state enforcement by adopting and enforcing codes that meet minimum state standards. However, where cities do not meet these state minimums, the state standards will apply as will state enforcement. Cities also have limited authority to opt out of the application of the state standards in their jurisdictions.