Update to Existing Referenced Standards

Julie Ruth
July 3, 2017
COLUMN : Code Arena | Codes & Standards

Our review of the 2018 International Codes continues this month with a discussion about the update of existing referenced standards. There have been numerous instances where standards that were developed through meticulous adherence to ANSI or ASTM protocols were rejected due to concerns about the standard’s content.

Criteria for all referenced standards

The International Code Council Council Policy #28 requires that standards that are newly proposed for reference in one or more of the I-codes be developed in “an open and consensus process, such as ANSI or ASTM.” The use of ANSI or ASTM procedures is not specifically required by this provision. But, they are often used when developing a new standard because acceptance by ANSI or ASTM clearly demonstrates compliance with this provision of ICC CP28.

Both the ANSI and ASTM procedures can be rather tedious and time consuming. It is usually estimated that developing a standard through either of these processes will add at least a year to the standard’s development or update. Therefore, Standards Developing Organizations must weigh the use of ANSI or ASTM procedures depending on whether they want the standard referenced in the I-codes, or instead need to publish in a shorter timeframe.

Acceptance by ANSI or ASTM does not, however, guarantee acceptance of a new standard into the I-codes. There have been numerous instances where standards that were developed through meticulous adherence to ANSI or ASTM protocols were rejected due to concerns about the standard’s content. This can be frustrating to the SDO and other proponents of the new standard.

While standards newly proposed for reference were often rejected during the code development cycle, the existing referenced standards updated according to CP 28 were approved almost automatically. They were included and approved in a block proposal of other standards proposed for update. Over 1,000 standards were updated in such a manner during the development of the 2015 I-codes.

ANSI/ICC A117

However, something new happened during that same code change cycle. The update of ANSI/ICC A117, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Faculties from the 2009 to 2014 edition was disapproved by the ICC Administrative Code Development Committee on the basis of significant changes. It is expected that an updated standard might have significant changes. The standard had been updated following ANSI procedures, which made the rejection of this update unprecedented.

This occurrence was repeated during the development of the 2018 I-codes, when the update to the 2016 edition of ANSI/ICC A117 was disapproved. AAMA had supported the update to ANSI/ICC A117-16 in the 2018 I-codes because it references AAMA 513, Standard Laboratory Test Method for Determination of Forces and Motions Required to Activate Operable Parts of Operable Windows and Doors in Accessible Spaces. Reference to the 2016 edition of ANSI/ICC A117 would have made it clear that AAMA 513 was the appropriate method to use to determine the operable forces of windows and doors in accessible spaces.

ASCE 7

During the 2016 I-code development cycle, the unprecedented was extended to the update of ASCE 7-10, Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures. Although the update to the 2016 edition was approved by the ICC Administrative Code Development Committee, a floor motion to not update the standard was made and approved through online voting. This brought the question to the Public Comment Hearings. Final Action was the approval of coordinating text in the IBC, but not the IRC.

As explained in a previous column (see Window & Door May 2017, page 12), the net result was the update of the reference to the 2016 edition in both the 2018 IBC and 2018 IRC. But the prescriptive provisions of the 2018 IRC will not be updated to the 2016 edition of ASCE 7.

Future ramifications

The significance of these events for SDOs such as AAMA is huge. It means that even if an SDO meticulously follows the protocol of ANSI or ASTM, the update of their existing referenced standard in the next edition of the I-codes cannot be guaranteed or assumed. Other factors, such as the inclusion of “significant changes,” may cause the update to be disapproved by the ICC Administrative Code Development Committee, and ultimately not updated in the next I-codes edition.

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.