Some 2012 Code Changes Now in Place

Julie Ruth
May 13, 2010
COLUMN : Code Arena | Codes & Standards

As some of you are probably aware, the International Code Council final action hearings on its Group A+ (non-energy) related proposals took place in May 2010 in Dallas.  What you may not have been aware of is that the final action on some of these proposals had already been determined well before the Dallas hearings began.

Although the result was not finalized until the vote was taken on the consent agenda for the final action hearings on May 15th, the actions taken on the Group A+ proposals during the fall 2009 hearings in Baltimore that were not challenged by public comment were the final action on these proposals. Of those proposals, the ones that were approved as submitted or approved as modified by their applicable code change committee became the first known changes to the 2009 International Codes that will appear in the 2012 editions.

Probably the most significant to the industry are those dealing with minimum window sill heights, window guards and window opening limiting devices. Although the exact provisions for these in the 2012 International Building Code and 2012 International Residential Code are not definite yet, we do know there will be some changes between the 2009 and 2012 editions.

First of all, through the unchallenged approval of RB123, Part I, the current IRC criteria for window opening limiting devices will be replaced with reference to ASTM F2090 Specification for Window Fall Prevention Devices with Emergency Escape (Egress) Release Mechanisms for Window Opening Control Devices (WOCDs).

The provisions for minimum window sill heights and window guards (and WOCDs in the IRC) will also be moved from the sections of the IBC (Section 1405.13) and IRC (Section R613) that deal with windows to other sections of the applicable codes. Through the unchallenged approval of FS154, IBC Section 1405.13.2 will be moved to a new subsection of 1013.0 Guards, while through the unchallenged approval of RB121, IRC Section R612.2 will be moved to create a new section of Chapter 3 Building Planning.

Finally, we know for sure that in the 2012 IBC the use of window guards that comply with ASTM F2006 Standard/Safety Specification for Window Fall Prevention Devices for Nonemergency Escape (Egress) and Rescue (Ingress) Windows will be restricted to openings that are 75 feet or more above grade. The 2012 IRC will not reference ASTM F2006 for window guards at all. ASTM F2006 does not require window guards to be equipped with release latches, as is required for window guards that comply with ASTM F2090. Therefore, ASTM F2006 window guards are not considered appropriate for installation on windows that are required to be emergency escape and rescue openings.

More information on the Dallas hearings will be provided in August's Code Arena, but those events  determine if reference to ASTM F2090 for Window Opening Control Devices will be extended from the IRC to the IBC. Although a proposal to reference it for that purpose, RB123, Part II, was approved during the fall 2009 hearings, a public comment was submitted to specifically require all WOCDs to comply with ASTM F2090–not just those provided as an exception to the minimum window sill height. How such a provision might be applied and interpreted by a code official with regards to devices such as night latches is unclear.

Also still to be determined is the edition of ASTM F2006 and ASTM F2090 that is to be referenced in the 2012 International Codes. The 2009 IRC and IBC reference editions of these standards that do not include specific provisions for WOCDs. During the fall 2009 ICC hearings, reference to the 2008 editions of ASTM F2006 and F2090, which do include provisions for WOCDs, was approved. The next edition of both standards will be published this year and both provide greater clarity with regards to some WOCD requirements. This is specifically true with regards to the testing criteria for WOCDs in ASTM F2090.

Although AAMA will be seeking the update of both ASTM F2090 and ASTM F2006 from the 2008 edition to the 2010 edition in the 2012 International Codes, we will not know until October 2010 if this update will be accepted. At the present time, a manufacturer that is considering testing WOCDs for use in a fenestration product would be wise to have them tested to both the 2008 and 2010 editions of ASTM F2090. Since the 2010 edition basically just clarifies the requirements of the 2008 edition hopefully this would not be too arduous a task to have performed.

Other code change proposals approved for the 2012 International Codes, with the resultant changes, are as follows:

  • RB41–Clarifies that the maximum height of 44 inches to the bottom of emergency escape and rescue openings is to be measured from the top of the finished floor.
  • FS183–Changes the dome rise required in the IBC for light transmitting plastic skylights from 10 percent of length of skylight to 10 percent of maximum width. When this provision was first placed in the IBC, most plastic skylights were somewhat domed shaped, with an aspect ratio (length to width) of 1.0 to 1.5. Due to improvements in technology, it is now possible to shape plastic skylights with much greater aspect ratios. As these changes occurred, the requirement that dome rise be based upon the maximum length of the skylight became impractical.
  • RB14–Replaces the written criteria in the IRC for determining the areas in which glazed openings are to be protected from impact by wind borne debris with figures.
  • E58–Clarifies that door threshold height is to be measured from the finished floor in both the IBC and IRC.


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