FGIA Codes Update Shows Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

Kathy Krafka Harkema updates FGIA members on deadlines for the ICC Group A cycle.

Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted glass industry businesses, it’s also having an impact on codes. Fenestration & Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) U.S. codes and regulatory affairs manager Kathy Krafka Harkema and FGIA glass products and Canadian industry affairs director Margaret Webb updated attendees on U.S. and Canadian codes during the FGIA 2020 Virtual Fall Conference.

ICC Updates

According to Krafka Harkema, a survey conducted by the International Code Council (ICC) shows that, as of July 1, 60% of building code officials can’t carry out critical aspects of code work remotely while 40% don’t have access to electronic/remote permitting. The ICC has offered tips on how to conduct inspections remotely, which Krafka Harkema says could influence how products and projects are viewed by inspectors in the future. She says the organization also is considering offering remote virtual inspection services itself, which could fill an inspection need.

The ICC is reviewing its bylaws for the first time since its creation. It will look at its mission and public brand awareness; how it provides value for members and building safety; how it can ensure financial sustainability and growth; and assess the organizational structure and how it should do business going forward. FGIA hopes to have a report to present to the ICC board for consideration by December 2020.

Krafka Harkema explained that publication of the 2021 I-codes have been delayed, but should be available this month. She recommended that people who want to purchase the updated codes consider buying the versions with commentary, which give extra insight into the codes’ meanings and interpretations.

ICC Group A code change proposals are due January 11, 2021 and proposed changes will be posted online March 1, 2021. Committee Action Hearings currently are scheduled to be held April 11-21, 2021 in Rochester, N.Y. The deadline for filing public comments is July 2, 2021 and the public comment agenda will be posted online August 13, 2021. Public Comment Hearings will be held September 22-29, 2021 in Pittsburgh.

FGIA will field ICC Group A proposed code changes from members through October 30, 2020 and will finalize its proposals by December 2020. Krafka Harkema says some of the focuses of the Group A cycle include egress, fire safety and ventilation.

COVID-19 Impacts

The pandemic also has led to the postponement of the National Energy Codes Conference to May 11-13, 2021 in Chicago. In addition, ANSI’s World Standards Week will now be virtual. The Texas Department of Insurance had delayed its coastal code adoption until September 1, 2020 due to the pandemic. Krafka Harkema explained that it has gone into effect despite it not being reflected on the organization’s website.

“Websites aren’t being updated as often because states’ resources are being spread thinly,” she said.

Both Oregon and Washington have delayed adoption of I-codes. Oregon will likely delay the adoption of the 2018 International Residential Code until April 1, 2021. Washington has delayed the adoption of the 2018 International Building Code, International Fire Code and Washington State Energy Code until February 1, 2021.

Nevada has implemented inspection fees due to pandemic impacts. Inspection requests must be submitted online.

Canadian Updates

FGIA filed its first written public comments to the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes on proposed changes to the Canadian Energy codes in March 2020. FGIA commented on three proposed code changes:

  • Proposed change form (PCF) 1414, Air Infiltration Through the Building Envelope;
  • PCF 1536, Thermal Characteristics of Fenestration and Doors; and
  • PCF 1541, Fenestration and Door to Wall Ratio.

PCF 1414 sought to change the minimum air leakage requirements for whole buildings and will introduce blower door testing for whole buildings. FGIA’s comments opposed the restrictive air leakage values for doors that FGIA believe was a misinterpretation.

“The Building Envelope Task Group agreed with the industry position that this was a misinterpretation and corrected this at the task group meeting,” said Webb, who added that it has not yet been voted on in standing committee.

Webb explained that the industry has taken a hit in regard to PCF 1536, which reduces maximum allowable U-factors. The prescriptive maximum U-factor requirements were proposed to be reduced by 10-12%. The values were reduced by 10-15% in 2017. The result would be a 20-30% reduction over five years. FGIA opposed the change but was not successful in preventing the reduction. PCF 1541 sought to reduce the allowable fenestration and door area to wall area ratio for prescriptive compliance to the code. Webb said the ratio won’t change this cycle but it’s been tabled and will be put forth during the next code cycle.

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