The Codes Are Changing...Again

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Yes, it’s a year that’s divisible by three, meaning that the NYS Division of Building Standards and Codes is planning to adopt an update to the Uniform Code and the Energy Code. The new Uniform Code will be based on the 2018 ICC family of codes (IBC, IEBC, IFC, IFGC, IMC, IPC, IPMC, and IRC). The new Energy Code will be based on the 2018 IECC and the 2016 version of ASHRAE 90.1.

The change will update nearly all of the Referenced Standards, which means quite a bit of retooling for everyone - especially structural engineers. It’s likely that, once again, NYS will not create code manuals (in print or pdf) that incorporate the state’s modifications to the ICC documents. Design firms will probably need to plan to mark up the ICC documents (similar to posting a project addendum) or risk overlooking a potentially significant modification. The one likely exception to this is the Energy Code. Last time the codes changed, NYSERDA pitched in to create a book that included the new IECC with NYS modifications, as well as a Code Commentary – a very useful document. We hope and anticipate that this will happen again.

 Hopefully, as with previous updates, there will be an overlap period where design professionals can choose to use either the outgoing code or the incoming code as long as the version of the code used in the design is indicated on the contract documents and the entire design team uses the same version. That is, no mix-and-matching.

 Currently, we are in a public comment period for the proposed new codes. This means that if there are aspects of the proposed code that you would like to see changed, you can communicate that to the Department of State for their consideration. What this also means is that the currently proposed modifications may be modified before the final version is adopted. Based on what has happened in the past and what we’ve heard, we anticipate the changes will be finalized and adopted in the second half of 2019.

 The website – Building Standards & Codes tab has links to the proposed new code as well as documents comparing the changed provisions to the previous codes. We will have an update in the Fall edition of KHH Site & Structure.

 - Jim D’Aloisio

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