Code Updates In May

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

New York State's Uniform Codes are changing! As of 12 May 2020, project documents submitted for a Building Permit will need to comply with the new code, which is based on the ICC 2018 family of code books. Unlike some of the previous code updates, there will be no "transition period" when one can choose which version of the code to comply with. However, there is some good news: this time around the new codes have been published in book form – both soft-cover and PDF. This should greatly reduce the complexity and confusion caused in 2016 and 2017, when the state only published amendments to the ICC 2015 code books.

You can purchase the new NYS Code books here, and you can access free online versions of the Codes here.

So, what's changed?

Structurally, lots. All of the referenced standards for materials, design, and loading have been updated, including the 2017 version of the penultimate standard ASCE/SEI 7 "Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures." Among the most notable changes are wind loading (including wind maps) and components and cladding loads. There is also a new section on rooftop PV systems.

From minor to significant, many changes have been made throughout all nine code books. We have reviewed the changes that most affect our work in preparation for the new codes. One item of caution we found is this: the published books identify changes from the 2015 ICC codes, not changes from the 2016/2017 NYS Uniform Codes. If not read closely, this can lead to confusion.

In any event, now is a great time to familiarize yourself with the code family, including what codes are relevant for which types of projects. KHH has teamed up with NYSSPE to present a one-hour webinar overview of the NYS Uniform Codes that will be held on 5 May 2020. For more information, see our event page.

In previous years, the Energy Code updates have not always been on the same timetable as the rest of the Codes. This year, however, the Energy Code and Uniform Codes will all change as of 12 May 2020. The Energy Code changes are relatively minimal this time, but there are noteworthy changes throughout. One such change is the thermal control requirements for vestibules. Also included are two new Additional Energy Performance Options: improved envelope performance and blower door testing.

Now is a great time to get to know the Energy Code! KHH and Urban Green Council have teamed up to bring you “Crushing the Commercial Energy Code,” a webinar that will be held on 12, 15, and 18 May 2020. For more information, see our event page.

On a related note, New York State has teamed up with NYSERDA to develop the first-ever Stretch Code. Called NYStretch Energy Code 2020, it is a collection of modifications to the NYS Energy Code that municipalities can adopt, as a "more restrictive local ordinance." It includes significant increases to building envelope thermal performance, and – among other improvements – requires blower door testing for many projects. Several state organizations are considering adopting NYStretch. For more information see NYSERDA’s NYStretch resources.

As always, please contact us with any specific questions or concerns. Best of luck getting up to speed with the new codes!

- Jim D'Aloisio

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