Codes hearings by IB4Qiw0

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									Report from the Codes Hearing: Major Changes for ICC Codes in 2009
by Ron Burton, Vice President of Codes, Standards & Regulatory Affairs

Final Action Hearings to consider proposed changes to the 2009 editions of the International Code
Council code documents concluded on September 23 in Minneapolis. During seven days of virtually
non-stop debate, the ICC voting members approved a host of changes that will be incorporated into the
next editions of ICC codes scheduled for publication early in 2009. Many changes that will have a major
impact on commercial building construction and renovation were approved, including proposals on fire
safety, structural integrity, occupant evacuation and egress, and energy efficiency.

The hearings in Minneapolis set records for the number of major issues on the agenda and the sheer
numbers of voting members in attendance. The impact of three major issues were of primary concern
for BOMA members:

       A group of proposals reflecting the recommendations from the National Institute of Standards
        and Technology (NIST) study of the collapse of World Trade Center buildings focusing on
        structural integrity, fire safety and occupant egress. These included a change to require the
        addition of an extra stairway for buildings over 420 ft. in height.
       Proposals to place the burden of providing emergency responder radio coverage in commercial
        buildings on building owners and managers, and
       Proposals to implement huge increases in energy code requirements.

However, other major contentious issues were also on the agenda in Minneapolis, including mandatory
installation of residential sprinkler systems and carbon monoxide detectors in all new homes. The
debate over residential sprinklers brought out the most voting members with almost 2000 participating
in an overwhelming vote to approve the measure.

While several major changes were approved that will have a negative impact on BOMA members,
BOMA’ s representatives were also able to get approval of some modifications that will mitigate much of
the damage for our members on some of the changes that could be most problematic for our industry.
Primary among these is an alternative to the requirement for an additional stairway for buildings over
420 ft. in height that allows installation of an occupant egress elevator in lieu of the additional stairway.
The elevator option will be costly, but will eliminate the ongoing loss of rentable space with the extra
stairway.

BOMA and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) opposed some of the NIST proposals prior to
the hearing; however, due to negative media and Congressional attention, GSA withdrew its formal
objections which contributed to the approval of code changes that will negatively impact BOMA
members and the commercial real estate industry as a whole. One such change will require installation
of spray-on fireproofing for steel structural members with much greater bond strength (300 psf in
buildings above 75 ft. in height, increasing to 1,000 psf in buildings above 420 ft.) to resist dislodging
from an airplane impact or explosive device. This will mandate much more rigid fireproofing application
of as much as 1 ½ inches thick, which will add significantly to the cost of construction.
Numerous proposals to make major changes to the energy codes by the so-called “30 % Coalition” – an
alliance of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Alliance to Save Energy, American Council for an Energy
Efficient Economy, numerous insulation manufacturers, HVAC equipment manufacturers and suppliers,
and other groups - were on the agenda in Minneapolis. Most of these proposed changes primarily
impacted residential buildings but the change to ratchet up the code requirements 30 percent above
current levels covered all buildings. BOMA was successful in getting the blanket 30 percent increase
disapproved along with an equally onerous proposal by the American Institute of Architects to increase
code stringency by 50 percent over average building performance as measured by DOE data.

BOMA staff is working to assess the cost impacts of the changes that were approved in Minneapolis.
Working with GSA, BOMA did develop some cost estimates to inform the debate at the hearings,
including the cost of the additional stairway in a high-rise building of 75 stories in Manhattan. Initial
cost for construction was approximately $15 million and the annual cost of the lost rentable space plus
the interest carry on the initial cost amounted to a slightly less than $1.2 million annually. Cost impacts
for optional occupant egress elevator exception to the additional stairway requirement are not
confirmed at this time, nor is approval of the addition of photo-luminescent markings and signs in
stairways for both new and existing buildings.

Consideration of the adoption of the 2009 ICC model codes by local and state governments can begin as
early as the first half of 2009. However, most jurisdictions will not consider adoption of the 2009 codes
for up to several years after they are published next February.

Below is a summary of specific code change actions at the hearings in Minneapolis:

Fire Safety

       Multiple proposals to change the codes to require more masonry walls or more robust gypsum
        wall systems for fire separation within buildings: BOMA and our real estate partner
        organizations were able to defeat most of these proposals. ICC voting members did approve
        optional installation of occupant egress elevators that must have “hardened” shafts to keep fire
        and smoke infiltration out of the shaft – requiring either masonry walls or enhanced gypsum
        wall systems.
       BOMA was successful in getting disapproval of a proposal to require a secondary water supply
        for fire sprinkler systems extended to existing buildings.
       GSA’s proposal to eliminate the very onerous 1,000 lb. bond strength spray-on fireproofing for
        steel structural members in buildings above 420 ft. in height was withdrawn before the hearings
        started (see NIST recap below).
       A major change to require building owners to provide emergency responder radio frequency
        systems for firefighter/police communication in an emergency was approved over BOMA’s
        objections. This requirement will put the financial burden on building owners rather than city
        governments and will require updated systems when the city upgrades its mobile units. We
        were successful in getting a modification to reduce the allowed frequency strength and allow
        the signal strength to be tested at the building perimeter rather than at multiple locations
        within the building.
       We won disapproval of a proposal to mandate a building information sign listing fire emergency
        data to be posted outside the building entrance.
      BOMA was successful in defeating a proposed change to require two-hour fire rated walls
       around fire control centers in high-rise buildings.
      ICC members approved a requirement for building owners to visually inspect fire resistive rated
       elements (walls, ceilings, floors, etc.) annually. However, we got a modification so that this does
       not apply to non-visible elements.
      Our attempt to delete smoke control dampers in elevator shafts for business occupancy
       buildings was not successful.
      Proposals for more restrictive height and area tables— increasing fire resistive structural
       elements as buildings get taller with larger floor plates—were disapproved, a big win for BOMA.


Occupant Egress

      BOMA’s goal of eliminating the requirement for an additional stairway for buildings over 420 ft.
       in height was not successful. However, we were able to gain approval of the occupant egress
       elevator option in lieu of this additional stairway. The elevator option will be costly, but will
       eliminate the loss of rentable space with the extra stairway (see NIST recap below).
      Stairway emergency markers (photo luminescent paint on treads and emergency egress signs)
       were approved over BOMA’s objection. This was mandated for both new and existing
       buildings. BOMA’s proposal to eliminate the emergency stairway lighting if photo luminescent
       markers are required was defeated.
      Proposals to mandate larger elevator cars to accommodate today’s larger EMS gurneys were
       disapproved.


NIST-WTC Recommendations

      Spray-on fireproofing with a bond strength of 1000 psi for steel framing members over 420 ft. in
       height will be required in the 2009 IBC and IFC. This translates into application of much more
       rigid spray fireproofing approximately 1½ in. thick.
      Additional stair for buildings over 420 ft. in height was approved in 2007 and BOMA’s proposal
       to eliminate this requirement was disapproved.
      BOMA was successful in gaining a modification of a NIST proposal to require more robust
       structural frame integrity for all commercial buildings, and restrict this requirement to buildings
       over 75 ft. in height.


Energy Efficiency

Numerous proposals by the “30 % Coalition” were on the agenda in Minneapolis. Most of these
proposed changes to the International Energy Conservation Code primarily impacted residential
buildings but the change to ratchet up the code requirements 30 percent above current levels covered
all buildings. None of these proposals was accompanied by ANY cost impact estimates by the
proponents, leading to BOMA’s opposition to many of the changes.

      BOMA was successful in getting the blanket 30 percent increase disapproved.
   We also successfully opposed an AIA proposal to increase code stringency by 50% over average
    building performance as measured by DOE data.
   Proposals to greatly increase the efficiency of windows in southern climates, doors in all
    climates, increased floor and basement insulation in northern climates, increased air sealing
    procedures, and to require duct efficiency testing all were approved.
   BOMA was successful in gaining disapproval of proposals to increase ceiling and wall insulation
    levels in all climates.
   We also defeated a proposal to require high solar reflectance roofs in southern climates.
   Continuous air barrier behind wall facades in commercial buildings and testing of the air
    infiltration for very large buildings has been a contentious issue in the development of ASHRAE
    energy standards for some time. BOMA was able to defeat a proposal to put these
    requirements in the ICC energy code.
   BOMA gained disapproval of increased building commissioning requirements.
   BOMA defeated a proposal to require fully shielded exterior lighting proposed by the “Dark Sky
    Coalition.”

								
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