Research Required

Julie Ruth
February 8, 2017
COLUMN : Code Arena | Codes & Standards

Americans fiercely value the right to individual opinions and beliefs, and our entrepreneurial spirit has been credited to this very characteristic. However, when it comes to the development of regulations for the built environment, let’s just say compliance would be a whole lot easier if, at least once in a while, everyone could agree on one best approach.

Of course, that doesn’t happen, so we have a wide variation of code requirements. In the United States, individual states are given the right and responsibility to regulate construction. Some states have taken on those rights and responsibilities at their highest government level, while others fall to local jurisdictions at either the county or municipal levels.

Each of these jurisdictions may choose to adopt different codes or different editions of the same codes. For example, although the 2012 edition of the International Building Code is the most widely used code for commercial construction in U.S. history, a number of jurisdictions have updated to the 2015 edition. At the same time, some jurisdictions are still enforcing the 2009 or 2006 edition. Furthermore, variations with regard to adopted amendments and sub-topics can occur between entities that are enforcing the same edition of a particular code.

What are Manufacturers to Do?

Manufacturers frequently ask, “Is there a single source for all the code adoption information across the country that a manufacturer might need?” The answer: none appears to be evident at this time. The natural follow up is, “How can I (or my sales team) determine what requirements are in place in any given sales area?”

The answer is one that very few people want to hear—you have to dig for the information yourself. This can be time consuming, tedious and frustrating. It would also take a team of individuals doing the research to stay up-to-date on all the possible variations and changes that occur, minute by minute, across the United States.

It seems the best one can do is to try to figure out what is being enforced in the majority of jurisdictions one is selling into. Then, if you encounter an anomaly, work with that specific jurisdiction to understand just what it is and what your company needs to do to comply with it.

Starting Points

With that in mind, the intent of this column is to provide a couple of starting points for your research. These sources will not necessarily give you all the information you need to know about code adoption nationwide, but they can give you some indication of what the requirements might be in at least the majority of them.

This helpful resource is found via the International Code Council. The ICC relies upon the adopting jurisdiction to let them know if they have adopted one or more of their codes, and if so, which one(s). Therefore, the listing on the website may not be the most up-to-date. It also does not provide any indication of which jurisdictions are in the process of adopting an I-code or any information on amendments that may or may not have been adopted by the jurisdiction. Even so, the ICC website remains the single best source of information on code adoption in the United States to date.

There is also a list provided by the Building Codes Assistance Project. The BCAP advocates for the adoption and update of energy efficient codes across the nation. The website offers good information as to which energy codes are being enforced by a specific jurisdiction and any pending updates.

While the BCAP website can provide some indication of code adoption activities that may be occurring at the same time with regard to other construction codes such as the IBC and IRC, its primary focus is energy-efficient codes. It is not intended to address other codes in a comprehensive manner. Also, as with the ICC website, information on amendments that may have been adopted by the jurisdiction is limited.

Hopefully these resources will aid you and your team throughout the New Year.

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 julruth@aol.com.