To address a spate of pending and anticipated energy legislation, the Northeast Spa & Pool Association is drafting a model code.

The move comes in response to a recently passed energy-conservation ordinance in the town of Southampton, N.Y., as well as pending codes in New Jersey and Connecticut. All three have been receptive to NESPA’s input and are working to fine-tune their respective laws and codes.

“We did not want to fight this battle town by town across our region and across the country,” said Lawrence Caniglia, NESPA’s executive director. “It makes more sense that the industry gets together and looks at the issue that is facing everybody — and it’s the energy issue. We needed to come up with a plan that works for everybody.”

Called the Cool Pool Program, NESPA’s proposed model is derived largely from California’s Title 24 energy standards for building codes. It lays out standards for heaters and pumps, but also specifies other ways of ensuring efficiency. It would require that pools have covers to retain heat. It outlines and requires specific energy-saving plumbing practices and filter-sizing methods.

In July, Southampton passed its Energy Conservation Code, stating that all pools must have solar systems sized to maintain water temperature of at least 80 degrees between May and September. It goes on to state that a backup heating source also can be installed, provided it is of the highest efficiency available, and heats the water to no more than 86 degrees. The code was originally scheduled to kick in Oct. 1, however NESPA officials negotiated an extension until Jan. 1, 2009, so they could make an alternate proposal.

Immediately following the July passage, NESPA formed the Southampton Energy Code Group, composed of manufacturers, distributors, builders and representatives from other industry sectors. They decided to write the replacement language to address the Southampton ordinance and prepare for upcoming codes and legislation.

Being mindful of the concern over entrapment hazards, the committee also included proposed language about safety. Much of it is compiled from ANSI/APSP standards, including the ANSI/APSP-7 Standard for Suction Entrapment Avoidance.

With the new language completed, NESPA currently is seeking to have it scheduled for a public hearing before the Southampton town board.

Energy issues continue to spring up throughout the Northeast. In Connecticut, the Division of Policy and Management adopted an early version of California’s Title 20. But the language didn’t include the updated protocols for testing portable spas.

With the older wording, approximately 80 percent of portable spas would not qualify for sale in the state. To fix this, the Division of Policy and Management is proposing to change Connecticut’s code to state that it will adopt the final version of California’s Title 20, once that state has settled on the language.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey legislature is considering the Hybrid Swimming Pool Heating Act. It would require pools to be outfitted with solar heating systems that measure at least 25 percent of the vessel’s surface area, or can provide at least 25 percent of the needed heating.

The state also is hearing a bill to adopt California’s Title 20, but removed the pool and spa language after being told that California’s language wasn’t finalized yet. Once the Western state passes Title 20, New Jersey may decide to put it back in the slow-moving bill. If not, Caniglia said, NESPA may approach the legislature and ask to add the language. “It’s the language we want,” he said.

NESPA plans to take a more proactive approach in general when it comes to energy and safety legislation and ordinances. “What I’m learning more and more with government relations is that it’s really difficult when the only time you go to the government people is when you’re saying, ‘No.’ They get really tired of the same industry always saying, ‘No.’

“It helps when we can say, ‘Our industry will prove to you that we can actually save energy.’ It puts us in a good light because we’re trying to do the right thing. [Then] when they get a proposal that will hurt the industry, they’re willing to sit down and talk to us.”