Once again, the International Code Council (ICC) is holding hearings to consider code changes. Once again, billions of building dollars are at stake.
In April in Dallas, the ICC held the first of two public hearings to consider changes to the 2015 editions of the International Fire, Energy Conservation, Existing Buildings and Property Maintenance codes. More than 2,200 code change proposals – almost double the number of changes submitted in 2012 – are under consideration this year. One factor driving the larger number of proposals is the fact that energy conservation proposals are on the docket this year.
The Dallas hearings were conducted by code development committees for each particular code. Their recommendations are subject to the approval of ICC voting members at hearings this fall.
Top concerns in 2013 include three issues involving the codes’ appendix chapters, which are designed to allow state and local jurisdictions to decide whether to implement their specific provisions. Specific appendices must be identified whenever state and municipal governments adopt ICC codes.
Two issues negotiated last year – sprinkler system retrofits for existing buildings and the installation of firefighter air breathing replenishment systems for all buildings – were unanimously recommended for approval in appendices. Another concern is moving the requirement for building energy and mechanical system commissioning from its current position in the code body into an appendix. This change was recommended for disapproval by a split vote of the committees.
Coordinating the model codes with federal accessibility regulations, particularly with the revised ADA standards that went into effect in March of 2012, is an ongoing effort. The ICC’s goal for next year, when the 2012-2014 development cycle concludes, is to have comprehensive requirements that help owners to ensure that their commercial properties are fully compliant with the latest ADA regulations.
A Scorecard of Nays and Ayes
In the ICC process, we expect to see scores of proposals that add costly and unnecessary mandates to new and existing buildings. In my view, this year is no exception.
In response to objections raised by real estate advocates as well as many code enforcement officials, the following 26 proposals were among those recommended for disapproval by the ICC committees in Dallas.