Building Codes and InnovationBy Marion Maguire, Director Business Development, International Code Council
Competition for business in today’s tough economy requires companies to be at the top of their game and introduce innovative products to the marketplace. When thinking of innovation in building products, building codes can seem to get in the way. However, it is often the general lack of understanding of building codes that serves as the biggest obstacle or deterrent to innovation. A closer inspection of the International Building Code, published by the International Code Council —especially Section 104.11—reveals a window of opportunity and offers a world of possibilities for those who manufacture or incorporate new and innovative products and materials in building construction projects.
Confirming an Innovative Product Complies with Code
The final approval of building products is the responsibility of the authority having jurisdiction. As building professionals have more and more choices when it comes to selecting and approving building products, it creates the need to assure that the products used are code- compliant. The independent source preferred by code officials as well as designers to verify that new and innovative products meet the building code requirements is ICC Evaluation Service, Inc. (ICC-ES®). ICC-ES is a subsidiary corporation of the International Code Council – the promulgator of the I-codes - and works closely with industry in the development of ICC-ES Evaluation Reports.
ICC-ES Evaluation Reports result from a thorough evaluation and verification of technical data, and are created in an effort to facilitate the acceptance of new building technologies in the marketplace without compromising the safety of the public.
ICC-ES Evaluation Reports provide the code official with the information needed to approve an innovative product.
Manufacturers of new and innovative products look to ICC-ES for third-party validation that their products do in fact meet the minimum performance requirements of the International Codes (I-Codes), or ICC-ES Acceptance Criteria (ACs) where the product is not covered by the code. With input from manufacturers, technical experts, academics, and testing laboratories, among others, ICC-ES has a unique process in place for the development ACs, which provide technical guidance and a technical “level playing field” for manufacturers. ACs are created to provide a means for ICC-ES to determine the code compliance of innovative construction methods and materials when other standards are nonexistent or vague, and are the basis for ICC-ES Evaluation Reports on innovative products .
ICC-ES Evaluation Reports can be accessed and downloaded free of charge at www.icc-es.org/evaluation_reports and are available as a tool for anyone interested in incorporating the latest advances in building technology into construction projects. ICC-ES Evaluation Reports are now also embedded in eCodes Premium, the electronic version of the I-Codes, directly connecting chapters and specific sections of ICC’s 2006 I-Codes to related product reports or listings. This new functionality allows building officials, designers, architects, engineers, and other building professionals to search the codes electronically to easily find code-compliant products.
Innovation Is Within Reach
Building codes should not be seen as an inhibitor to progress or innovation. With ICC Evaluation Service as a resource, a more flexible and dynamic system is in place to help gain acceptance of innovative building technologies in the marketplace.
LEARN MORE! www.icc-es.org / 1-800-423-6587
Reprinted with permission from The Specialty Tools & Fasteners Distributors Association's April newsletter.