3) Conflict Resolution and Cost Savings
One major debate at last year's conference revolved around a proposal to mandate firefighter breathing air replenishment systems in every new high-rise building, plus a mandatory retrofit in existing high-rise buildings.
The idea was well-intended – firefighters could refill their air bottles in the building instead of heading back out to the truck. However, the proposal failed to account for the wide variation in pump pressure and other features that differ between manufacturers, so a replenishment system that works for one local fire department may not work for firefighters from a neighboring town who show up to assist.
The solution? A code appendix negotiated by BOMA and the National Multi Housing Council with system manufacturer and fire service proponents. The provisions in this appendix, which will be proposed in 2013, will allow local jurisdictions to choose whether or not to require these systems.
Additionally, the ICC board of directors opted to head off potential conflicts between the International Building Code and the International Existing Building Code. Currently, the IEBC includes the same provisions as Chapter 34 of the IBC, so the entire chapter was deleted in favor of a reference to the Existing Building Code to prevent future conflicts.
The conference also saw the defeat of a host of damaging proposals not included in the $3.50 per square foot calculation, including:
- Water leak detection systems on all plumbing fixtures and water lines in new and existing buildings
- Floor drain systems in all bathrooms and kitchen areas
- Recirculation pumps for all hot water piping over 50 feet in length
- Mandatory installation of tornado shelters in new and existing buildings located in wind map areas greater than 115 mph, a proposal that could add up to a staggering $2.50 per square foot to the compliance costs of buildings in tornado-prone areas
- Required radon-reducing measures in buildings located in EPA-designated high radon probability areas
The next two code hurdles on the horizon will come in 2013 and 2014 with final hearings on 10 more revisions. The 15 ICC model codes are divided into three groups, each having a different timetable within the organization's three-year publication cycle. The Portland conference heralded final votes on the five Group A codes.
Group B, which will be heard later this year, includes updates to codes from energy conservation to zoning, while Group C (heard in 2014) focuses exclusively on the International Green Construction Code. After the final Group C votes in 2014, all 15 revisions will be published and become available for state and local adoption.
Ron Burton is president of PTW Advisors, LLC and the former vice president of codes, standards, and regulatory affairs for BOMA International.