Letters: Reader Feedback

Codes & Standards—Friend or Foe? Codes and standards, for all basic purposes, are supposed to be the basis of design. The one thing we must remember is that codes are laws, and standards evolve through financial investment in research and development. There have been occasions when standards have been adopted by various codes and are considered law.

05/01/2007


Codes & Standards—Friend or Foe?

Codes and standards, for all basic purposes, are supposed to be the basis of design. The one thing we must remember is that codes are laws, and standards evolve through financial investment in research and development. There have been occasions when standards have been adopted by various codes and are considered law. Those standards that have not been adopted are intended to be part of your design but are not enforceable by code.

Now, we must realize that even though a standard, in many cases, is more demanding than a code, and the code only requires the “minimum,” it is the code that is enforced.

But with green building technology becoming more and more in demand, it is time for certain codes and standards to unite and be accepted.

All of us are aware of the steps that have been taken to provide water conservation through plumbing fixtures that use less water. I am not going to elaborate on each and every method that conserves water. What I am going to address is something that has been overlooked in the International Code Concil's (ICC) Plumbing Code.

IAPMO, the National Standard Plumbing Code and the Philadelphia Plumbing Code, for more years than I can remember, have required “metered self-closing faucets” in transient restrooms. The ICC completely has ignored this method of conserving water. These faucets have proven to be extremely effective in conserving water where these code requirements have been adopted and are enforced.

ASHRAE/IESNA has expended a great deal of money in research and development of their Standard 90.1, which addresses “heat recovery” in kitchen exhaust and make-up air systems. Utilization of heat recovery reduces the sizes of heating and cooling equipment, duct sizes, electrical panels and distribution and consumption of power. But when you refer to the ICC Mechanical and Energy Codes, you find out that “heat recovery is not required.”

It is difficult enough for design engineers to design systems that offer the client the best that is available, fend off those who offer “value engineering” and have codes that do not enforce that which has proven best for the client. I was told by an ICC code official “that they are trying to develop a code that is more contractor-friendly.”

Since when does a code have to be “contractor-friendly?” I always was under the impression that a code is to ensure the safety of the public.

Designers and engineers in the plumbing and HVAC Industry need the ICC to review and listen to what other codes—and the engineers—have to contribute and expand their conservation requirements.

Joseph M. Smaul, P.E., NSPE,Life Member ofa ASHRAEphiladelphia





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