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July - August 2003

Code/Concerns

Code Advocacy at its Best 
 
Years of Work Yields Rewards
by Michael Fischer

With the publication of the 2003 editions of the International Codes, the focus on code development at the International Code Council (ICC) level has begun to shift to state and local adoptions as well as other related legislative activities. Code advocates are seeing the results of years of activity bear fruit as states bring the I-Codes into their 
jurisdictions. 

New York is a prime example of the positive outcome of the consolidation of the three existing model code organizations—Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI), Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA) and International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) into one organization developing a single, comprehensive family of codes. 

New York recently adopted the I-Codes, with the energy conservation code taking effect in July 2002 and the building and residential codes implemented as of January 2003. This adoption was based upon the 2000 I-Codes, with additional text from the supplemental cycle in 2001. The previous statewide code enforced in New York dated back several decades and was administered as a stand-alone document in New York. 

Now that New York has adopted new requirements based on the I-Codes, those involved in the state will realize the benefit of being part of a nationally developed and maintained set of codes providing the most current and extensive codes language available. While New York will continue to administer the codes, taxpayers can avoid the extra cost of a code development process. 

The Department of State in New York (NYDOS), the state agency charged with the administration of New York State’s construction codes, has become involved in the ICC process. That involvement brings a new plus for the I-Code development—the participation of NYDOS in I-Code development. The experience and strength of New York will now become an important asset for the ICC. In fact, Dottie Harris, assistant director of the department of state in New York, recently was elected to serve on the board of directors of the ICC. 

The actual implementation of the residential and building codes in New York occurred in January 2003. As the New York construction industry experiences its first building season under these new regulations, many issues related to the specific provisions are bound to surface. 

With experience gained in this first adoption of a model code, NYDOS staff members will move toward the adoption of the newer provisions found in the 2003 I-Codes. Window, door and skylight provisions will change with that move as referenced standards are updated.

Part of the scope of new requirement in New York is the requirements for opening protection in the high-wind zones found in Long Island. The 2003 I-Codes contain the newer version of 101/I.S.2 that includes performance requirements for skylights. As the fenestration industry moves forward, it will take more diligence to stay on top of the ever-changing code environment.

Other states that have yet to adopt the I-Codes face their own challenges. In Florida, the Florida Building Commission has begun its next code cycle on the heels of a glitch code cycle designed to correct errors and omissions in the previous cycle, while the Florida legislature wrestles with the necessary rulemaking to plan the future of Florida code development and statewide product approvals.

There was a time early on the history of the Florida Building Code’s initial development when the suggestion was made to wait until the 2000 International Codes had been completed. Instead, Florida opted to move forward with a “Floridized” version of the Standard Building Code. 

Years of effort and upheaval in the building industry were at a very expensive price tag for both public and private interests and have left Florida with a not-quite-ready-for-prime-time building code, no completed product approval system and uncertainty about local enforcement issues. This next cycle may well resolve many of the outstanding issues. 

Michael Fischer serves as director of codes and regulatory compliance for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, which is based in Des Plaines, Ill.

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