Local Governments Vote for Safety and Efficiency Building Code Updates

January 14th, 2020 by Kyra Thompson

The preliminary voting results for several building codes including the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and the International Residential Code (IRC) have been released. Proposed updates and changes to building codes, which are managed by the International Code Council (ICC), are voted on every three years to incorporate new developments and meet modern-day minimum levels of safety, fire protection and efficiency.

These codes serve as a model for new construction standards for a structure’s doors, windows and other building components. States and cities that monitor their own codes can refer to these codes when developing local standards.

These preliminary results are the online governmental consensus vote (OGCV) which began in November 2019 following the results from the ICC public comment hearings (PCH) which were held in October 2019. The OGCV consists of input from eligible voters who come from local governments and related agencies.

Several updates were approved and two new appendices suggesting zero-energy consumption standards are set to be added to the 2021 version of the IECC, according to the preliminary results.

One approved change that will affect door, window and glass standards is the previously reported RE 35-19 that changed fenestration U-factor requirements in zones 3-4 so as not to conflict with Energy Star standards. This change was approved by the OGCV as modified by public comment which [DWM] covered here.

The Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) reports that these updates will improve efficiency by an estimated 10% in both residential and commercial buildings that follow the IECC.

“Homes and buildings account for roughly 40% of our energy consumption and carbon emissions, so this is a very big deal,” said ASE president Clay Nesler. “It will save consumers and businesses money that can be invested elsewhere in the economy while significantly reducing carbon emissions.”

Also set to be updated were several changes to the IRC regarding flashing and height of window opening control devices (WOCD) that [DWM] also reported on in October during the PCH.

RB 90-19, which addressed safety requirements for WOCD, was approved as submitted while RB 238-19, which addressed standards related to flashing, was approved as modified at the committee action hearing.

The results are not finalized until the ICC board of directors certifies the standards, before which there is a challenge-period where any approved proposals can be subject to further review according to the document containing the OGCV preliminary results. The final results are set to be released later in 2020.

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