Training in the Off-Season

Julie Ruth, American Architectural Manufacturers Association
December 29, 2013
COLUMN : Code Arena | Codes & Standards

In 2012, the requirements of the 2015 ICC Group A codes were determined. The ICC Group A codes consist primarily of the International Building Code, and the IBC is the parent code of the ICC family of codes.

In 2013, the requirements of the 2015 ICC Group B codes were determined. The ICC Group B codes consist of the International Residential Code, International Fire Code, International Existing Building Code and International Property Maintenance Code. The ICC Group B codes also include the International Energy Conservation Code.

In 2014, the requirements of the 2015 ICC Group C codes, which consist primarily of the International Green Construction Code, will be determined. The IgCC extends the challenge of the IECC even further because it seeks to balance sustainable construction cost effectively without compromising building or life safety. Sustainable construction includes, but is definitely not limited to, energy conservation.

The ICC Group A and B codes are intended to be standalone codes. This means that a jurisdiction can adopt any one of them, by themselves, and they have all the information they need to enforce that code, just within that document.

In comparison, the IgCC is intended to be an overlay code that is not meant to be adopted alone, but with other I-codes as well.

Another aspect of the IgCC that sets it apart from other codes is that compliance with its requirements appears to be much more market driven than regulatory driven. This is true for other codes and standards for green construction as well.

Only five U.S. states have adopted the IgCC : Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon and Rhode Island. It has also been adopted locally in the states of Arizona, New Hampshire and Washington. In most of these instances, the jurisdiction has adopted the IgCC as an option, not as a mandatory code. In other words, if a designer or building owner wants to claim that their building is “green,” the jurisdiction can provide them with the IgCC as the basis for their claim.

Since the ICC is the primary agency that develops model building codes in the U.S., and its codes are the most widely used in U.S. history, adoption and enforcement of the IgCC at such a low level would seem to indicate that green construction is being mandated for a very low percentage of the U.S. market, if at all.

Based upon this, one might anticipate that green construction is having a rather insignificant impact on the U.S. construction market. Other markers, however, indicate this is not the case.

According to the report “World Green Building Trends” issued this year by McGraw-Hill Construction, 40 percent of the construction-related firms questioned for their survey indicated that 60 percent or more of their work in 2012 was for buildings that were specifically being designed and built to qualify for green certification. These firms included 700 architectural, engineering or consulting firms, and 100 manufacturer or supplier firms.

And while it’s likely that much of this green construction was commercial, the same report indicates that in the United States, in 2012, 14 percent of low-rise residential construction (three stories or less), 20 percent of high-rise residential construction (more than three stories), and 20 percent of mixeduse community development was built to qualify for green construction.

This seems to indicate that, while only included in the codes of a few jurisdictions, green construction just might be having a significant impact on the residential U.S. construction market. In turn, this seems to indicate that the year 2014 might not be as much of an “off-season” with regards to code development as we codies might have originally thought.

The cdpACCESS Program

Interest in this off-season of code development might be further heightened by its use to pilot the ICC’s cdpACCESSTM process. If this process is successful this year, the ICC intends to use it for all International Codes going forward.

The first stage of this new process is online development of code-change proposals. This stage of the program is currently operational.

The first step in developing a code-change proposal using this new process is to log into the website. ICC members log in just as they would to the main ICC website, with their registered e-mail address and password.

Once on the site, the user can select the section or sections of the applicable code for which they plan to develop a proposal. That code section opens in a separate window. The user can then make proposed changes by using the “edit” button, following the mandatory format of underlining proposed new text and striking through text that is proposed for deletion.

To add a reason statement, the user then goes to the “required information” tab on the same web page. Here, the user can add their reason statement and indicate the potential cost impact of the code-change proposal. The cost-impact statement options are limited to: “This proposal will increase the cost of construction,” and “This proposal will not increase the cost of construction.”

If the user wishes to add supporting information to their reason statement, they can do so using the “attachments” tab on the same web page. On this tab, the user can attach text documents that are in Word, Acrobat or other text formats, or images such as pictures, graphs and charts that are in jpeg, dwg, jpg, tif or other image file formats.

A “submission checklist” tab then checks and verifies that all of the required information for submission of the proposal has been provided. In addition to the proposed code change, the reason statement and cost impact statement, this will also include acceptance of one of two copyright agreements. Other information, such as the draft of a standard newly proposed for reference in the I-code, may also be required.

Once the submission checklist tab is satisfied that all of its requirements have been met, a button becomes activated that allows the user to submit the codechange proposal. The user of the site can verify the status of their proposal by clicking on the “proposals” button on the top of the cdpACCESS webpage. Once a user clicks on that button, an overview of all the proposals they have developed on that page will appear, indicating the status of each proposal.

The ICC had initially indicated that collaboration on proposals with other users of their site would be available. As of press time, however, that stage had not yet become operational.

So, the cdpACCESS program begins. Combined with a heightened market for green construction, 2014 may not be so “off ” after all.

Code Arena is brought to you by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association. Julie Ruth may be reached through AAMA at 847/303-5664 or via e-mail at julruth@aol.com.