More from the ICC Hearings in Baltimore

Julie Ruth
December 1, 2009
COLUMN : Code Arena | Codes & Standards

Previously, reports on the International Code Council code development hearings that ended earlier in November focused on significant energy related proposals that could impact the window and door industry and the approval of a proposal to reference the Association of Millwork Distributors' side hinged entry door standard in the International Residential Code. This article summarizes the results on some other proposals covering window opening control devices, skylights and deflection limits.

Window Opening Control Devices/Minimum Window Sill Heights
A proposal (RB123) that provides an exception to the minimum window sill height requirement for operable windows that are equipped with Window Opening Control Devices (WOCDs) that comply with ASTM F2090 was approved for both the IRC and IBC. The device must limit the initial opening of the window to no more than four inches, but can then release to allow the window to be fully open. The size required for an emergency escape and rescue opening is not required to be achieved until after the WOCD has been released.

A proposal (RB122) that raised the minimum sill height for operable windows from 24 inches to 36 inches was disapproved for the IRC, but approved for the IBC. A proposal (FS152) that limits the use of ASTM F2006 to operable windows greater than 75 feet in height in the IBC was also approved. ASTM F2006 provides for window guards that are not releasable.

Another proposal (E150) which would expand the current exception to the requirement for emergency escape and rescue openings to residences that are sprinklered was also approved for both the IBC and IRC. The 2009 IRC requires townhouses and single family homes to be fully sprinklered, and a proposal (RB56) to remove that requirement was disapproved. If the current status of these two proposals is upheld during the ICC final action hearings, the requirements for emergency escape and rescue openings in single family homes and townhouses will be dramatically reduced in the 2012 International Codes.

Two proposals (S3 and S144) of interest to skylight manufacturers were both approved for the IRC and disapproved for the IBC. S3 specifies that skylights are to be flashed in accordance with the skylight manufacturers' installation instructions, while S144 added tubular daylighting devices to the definition of unit skylights, and therefore subjects them to the testing and labeling requirements of AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440.

A proposal (FS183) by AAMA to revise the dome rise requirements of Chapter 26 for domed skylights to be 10 percent of the maximum width of the skylight, instead of the maximum span, was approved. Also approved was a proposal (FS182) that permits the Class B burning brand test, when required to be performed on plastic skylights, to be done at a height specified by the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

A proposal (FS181) that would have required all plastic skylights to be subject to a Class B burning brand test, regardless of the required classification of the roof itself, was disapproved. Also disapproved was a proposal (FS180) to require all skylights to be protected by a safety screen over the exterior of the skylight that can resist a 200 lb. concentrated load. The proposal did not specify the area over which the load was to be distributed. Depending upon their size and design snow load, some skylights are capable of resisting loads well in excess of 200 lbs. Any requirement for safety screens over such skylights would have been unnecessary and redundant.

L/175 Deflection Exemption
Two proposals (S140/S141) to limit the L/175 deflection exemption that currently exists in the International Building Code were disapproved. The IBC requires engineering analysis or a test report signed by a registered design professional for approval of framing that supports glass and deflects more than L/175 when subjected to design load. An exemption exists, however, for products that are tested and labeled in accordance with AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440. Both the 2009 IBC and the 2009 IRC require windows, sliding doors and unit skylights to bear such a label.

During a previous ICC code change cycle, the Aluminum Extruders Council and Glazing Industry Code Committee sought to have this exemption removed from the IBC, but the proposal was disapproved. Part of the basis for the disapproval was that fact that products that have been installed in residences built under the IRC are not subject to these requirements, yet studies conducted by the ICC and other organizations in the aftermath of high wind events have demonstrated that homes built under the IRC performed better than homes that were not. This has included the fact that windows were more likely to have remained intact.

For the Baltimore hearings, AEC and GICC submitted proposals that would limit the application of the exemption rather than eliminate it. The proposals applied the exemption to only residential buildings three stories or less in height. The range of buildings proposed was similar to those included within the scope of the IRC, but expanded beyond that to include apartment buildings and hotels, as well as single family homes and townhouses.

The Baltimore ICC code development hearings were just the first step toward the development of the 2012 edition of the International Codes. It was, however, the last time that hearings for all of the ICC codes will be held within one grouping as one set of hearings.

Upcoming ICC Dates
Going into the next phase of ICC code development, the proposals will be split into two groups that are being designated Group A+ and Group B-. The deadline to submit public comments, and the final action hearings, for each group will be different.

Group A+ proposals will include proposed changes to the IBC and IRC-Building. Group B- proposals will include proposed changes to the International Energy Conservation Code, IRC-Energy, and update to existing referenced standards in any of the I-codes.

The calendar for 2010 ICC Code Development is as follows:

  • February 8, 2010 - Deadline to submit public comments on Group A+ proposals
  • May 14-23, 2010 - Final action hearings on Group A+ proposals
  • July 1, 2010 - Deadline to submit public comments on Group B- proposals
  • October 23-November 1, 2010 - Final action hearings for Group B - proposals.

AAMA and other industry groups will begin meeting soon to determine on which Group A+ proposals they wish to submit public comments, and to develop those public comments.

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