The second round of the International Code Council (ICC) code development hearings, known as the ICC Group B Committee Action Hearings, kicked off this spring in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As the only commercial real estate association with an active building codes advocacy program, BOMA International took part in testifying on a number of code proposals before the committees. The hearings covered proposals relating to energy, existing buildings and structural codes.
The hearings offer the opportunity to provide input on code-change proposals and are sectioned into two groups. Group A code changes were tackled in the 2018 cycle. This year, the focus is on Group B code changes. After the hearings, there will be a period in which public comments can be made about specific code proposals. These comments will be considered during the public comment hearings scheduled for October in Las Vegas.
The energy codes portion proved to be particularly challenging since many of the proposals focused on stringent energy measures. While energy conservation is an important aspect of code adoption, BOMA and other organizations emphasized the importance of the committee looking at all ramifications, including potential cost and implementation. The upfront cost and rate of return are huge factors for builders and owners. BOMA will continue to build our position on these issues and will work with strategic partners, such as the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), to develop public comments on these proposals. It is important that we emphasize the complexity, staffing considerations and compliance burdens that go along with stricter energy code compliance.
BOMA International also prepared positions for existing building code proposals. There are proposals on the table that may bring various retrofitting provisions from the International Fire Code (IFC) to the International Existing Building Code (IEBC). The IEBC was created to improve existing building safety incrementally as modifications are made to a building. However, some proposals mandate that the existing space be made compliant with the IFC before even considering a building or space modification. Additionally, BOMA will provide an alternate proposal related to the expansion of fire and other alarm notification device requirements outside a work area, as building owners need more time to budget for extensive improvements.
On the structural codes front, one major proposal that moved forward includes a change bringing the international codes (I-Codes) in line with federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements regarding fall protection and suspended work from tall buildings. Five additional proposals are expected to be successful, possibly with minor changes, during the public comment period.
It is important that BOMA and other industry organizations emphasize the complexity, staffing considerations and compliance burdens that go along with stricter energy code compliance.
BOMA’s code advocacy efforts were very successful in Albuquerque, with a whopping 90 percent of supported proposals for the existing building and structural codes affirmed. We hope to continue our success during the public comment hearings in October. Following these hearings, an online governmental consensus vote will take place. This will be open for two weeks before the Validation Committee and ICC Board confirm the final action. A full report outlining BOMA’s specific positions, actions taken and the outcomes of those positions will be available at the conclusion of the code development process. BOMA also will provide a full report of both Group A and Group B hearing results in time for the 2020 Winter Business Meeting.
For more information about BOMA’s building codes efforts, contact BOMA International’s Senior Codes Consultant John Catlett.
This article was originally published in the July/August 2019 issue of BOMA Magazine.