FGIA Codes Update During Virtual Fall Conference Shows Impact of COVID-19

Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted glass industry businesses, it’s also having an impact on codes. Kathy Krafka Harkema, U.S. codes and regulatory affairs manager for the Fenestration & Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA), and FGIA glass products and Canadian industry affairs director Margaret Webb updated attendees on U.S. and Canadian codes, legislation and regulation 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 ICC also is considering offering remote virtual inspection services itself, which could fill an inspection need.

She explained that publication of the 2021 I-codes has been delayed, but should be available this year. 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.

COVID-19 Impacts

Krafka Harkema then gave an overview of how COVID-19 has impacted states’ revenues. She said that there’s projected to be a $169-$253 billion shortfall in general fund receipts for the combined fiscal year ending in 2020 and 2021.

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.

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.

PCF 1414 sought to change the minimum air leakage requirements for whole buildings and will introduce blower door testing for whole buildings. FGIA also opposed the restrictive air leakage values for doors, believing there 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.

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 go forth during the next code cycle.

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