Codes & Standards: Engineers Wanted

Who better understands the way buildings live, operate and breathe than the engineers who design them? So when it comes to ensuring safety in facilities via codes and standards, wouldn't it make sense for engineers to be intimately involved in the development process? Ideally, yes. But practically, it's not so simple.


Who better understands the way buildings live, operate and breathe than the engineers who design them? So when it comes to ensuring safety in facilities via codes and standards, wouldn't it make sense for engineers to be intimately involved in the development process?

Ideally, yes. But practically, it's not so simple.

"We feel strongly about participating [in the codes- and standards-making process], but unless we are sponsored, we cannot participate actively because we can't really afford the time and money to send someone to two to three meetings a year for four to five years," explains Steven Winter, an architect and president of Steven Winter Assoc., Inc., an M/E, building-research and sustainable design firm based in Norwalk, Conn.

Lawrence G. Spielvogel, P.E., an independent consultant based in King of Prussia, Pa., is very involved in the process, particularly through the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, but concurs that it's somewhat challenging to make the time.

"I wish it could be easier for everybody to get involved but it can be contentious, time-consuming and expensive to participate," says Spielvogel.

Engineers welcome

Unlike engineers, manufacturers often have the wherewithal—and the motivation—to allocate staff and resources to the cause, especially because designing their equipment to meet codes and standards is such a big item in their budgets, according to John Kampmeyer, P.E., an engineer with Triad Fire Protection Engineering in Springfield, Pa. But unlike manufacturers, consulting engineers often offer a more objective view of building performance.

"Product manufacturers and scientists may have a lot to add, but it's the architects and engineers who have a global view of how these technologies fit into buildings," says Winter.

Casey Grant, P.E., assistant chief engineer for the National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, Mass., agrees with the notion. "Engineers bridge the gap by implementing technology and bringing that into practical world reality."

Grant also notes that there are a number of benefits that engineers gain through participation, such as influencing codes and standards, networking with colleagues who are dealing with the same challenges and receiving industry recognition for their efforts.

Spielvogel echoes those advantages, adding that codes and standards involvement can be very fulfilling work as well as an opportunity to market one's firm or oneself.

Keeping up

Another major benefit of participation is the ability to stay current on pertinent information that engineers are ultimately responsible for knowing.

"If you're not involved, it's very difficult to understand the impact of the codes," says Kampmeyer. "It's not just throwing a fire damper on a duct; you have to understand why it needs to be there."

Spielvogel and Winter concur that it is very difficult for engineers to keep up with what codes and versions are in effect in different jurisdictions at any given time.

"Engineers have a tough time," notes Winter. "They either have to study the code like mad or hire a code consultant."

Not only do experienced engineers find it challenging, but new graduates are significantly less prepared to deal with codes, according to code consultant Kelly P. Reynolds of Kelly Reynolds & Assoc., Chicago.

However, due to the consolidation of national building codes and trends toward greater uniformity among jurisdictions, Reynolds predicts that engineering curricula will eventually change to reflect this.

"I expect to see codes questions on licensure exams in the next three to six years," claims Reynolds. "That means that colleges are going to have to start teaching codes."

State Building Codes: A Handy Reference

StatePlumbing CodeMechanical CodeElectrical CodeFire/Life-Safety CodeEnergy Code
1 - Applies to state-owned buildings, schools, hotels and theaters.
2 - Applies to all buildings except federal properties.
3 - Applies to state-owned buildings over 4,000 square feet.
4 - Mandatory for state-owned buildings.
5 - Mandatory for state-funded residential and community-owned buildings.
6 - Applies to state buildings.
7 - Applies as a mandatory statewide minimum for all buildings.
8 - Applies as a mandatory statewide code.
9 - Applies to hotels, motels and multifamily dwellings.
10 - Applies to all buildings except single family dwellings.
11 - Mandatory for all commercial buildings.
12 - Applies as a mandatory minimum for all buildings except one-and two-family dwellings.
13 - Applies to all commercial and high-rise residential buildings.
14 - Applies to schools and health-care facilities.
15 - Applies as a mandatory minimum to state-owned buildings, public buildings and buildings over 75 feet high.
16 - Applies to all commercial and residential construction.
17 - Applies to commercial and industrial buildings over 4,000 square feet.
18 - Applies to commercial construction.
19 - Applies to schools, day-care centers and state-owned buildings.
20 - Applies to residential construction.
21 - Applies to hospitals.
22 - Applies to all buildings connected to a public water supply or sewer.
23 - Applies to hotels/motels, restaurants, schools, state-owned and and publicly-funded buildings.
ASHRAE - American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
IEC - Illuminating Engineering Society
IECC - Int. Energy Conservation Code
IMC - International Mechanical Code
IPC - International Plumbing Code
MEC - Model Energy Code
NEC - National Electrical Code
NFPA - National Fire Protection Association
NFPC - National Fire Prevention Code
NMC - National Mechanical Code
NPC - National Plumbing Code
NSPC - National Standard Plumbing Code
SFPC - Standard Fire Prevention Code
SMC - Standard Mechanical Code
SPC - Standard Plumbing Code
UBC - Uniform Building Code
UFC - Uniform Fire Code
UMC - Uniform Mechanical Code
UPC - Uniform Plumbing Code
ALSPC 1994 (Ala. State Building Code), no amendments 1 SMC 1994 (Ala. State Building Code), no amendments 1 NEC 1996 (Ala. State Building Code), no amendments 1 SFPC 1994; NFPA 101, 1997; NFPA 1, 1997; NFPA 1998 (Regulations of the State Fire Marshal), no amendments 2 ASHRAE 90.1 (Ala. Building Energy Conservation Code) 3
AKUPC 2000, no amendmentsIMC 2000, no amendments 4 NEC 1999, no amendmentsIFC 20004Alaska Building Energy Efficiency Standards 5
AZNoneNoneNoneUFC 1997ASHRAE 90.1, no amendments 6
AR 7 Ark. State Plumbing Code 1995SMC 1997, no amendmentsNEC 1999, no amendmentsSFPC 1997ASHRAE 90.1-1989 no amendments
CA 8 UPC 1997 (Calif. Plumbing Code 1998)UMC 1997 (Calif. Mechanical Code 1998)NEC 1996 (Calif. Electrical Code 1998)UFC 1997 (Calif. Fire Code 1998)Calif. Energy Code 1998 (Title 24, Part 6)
CO 9 UPC 1997, no amendmentsUMC 1997, no amendmentsNEC 1996, no amendmentsNoneMEC 1993, no amendments
CT 8 IPC 1997 (State Building Code, 2000 Conn. supplement)IMC 1996 (State Building Code, 2000 Conn. supplement)NEC 1999 (State Building Code, 2000 Conn. supplement)NFPA 101, 1997 (State Fire Code, 2000 Conn. supplement)95 MEC; ASHRAE/IES 90.1 (2000 Conn. supplement)
DE 7 NoneNoneNEC 1999, (State Fire Prevention Regulations), no amendmentsState Fire Prevention Regulations; NFPA 101, 1997MEC 1993: ASHRAE 90.1-1989 (Del. Code, Title 16, Part 7, Ch. 76)
FL 7 SPC 1994, no amendmentsSMC 1997, no amendmentsNEC 1996, no amendmentsSFPC 1991, no amendmentsFla. Energy Efficiency Code for Bldg. Constr.
GAIPC 2000 (Ga. State Minimum Standard Plumbing Code)IMC 2000 (Ga. State Minimum Standard Mechanical Code)NEC 1999, (Ga. State Minimum Standard Electrical Code)SFPC 1994 (Ga. State Minimum Standard Fire Prevention CodeMEC 1995: ASHRAE 90.1 (Ga. State Energy Code for Buildings)
HINoneAdministrative Rules, Title 11, Ch. 39, Air Conditioning VentilatingNone1998 UFC with 1989 and 1990 supplements (State Model Fire Code) 10 ASHRAE 90.1 (Hawaii Model Energy Code) 4
ID 7 UPC 1997 (Administrative Laws, Title 2, Ch. 6)NoneNEC 1999, no amendmentsUFC 1997No commercial code
ILIll. Plumbing Code 7 NoneNoneNFPA 101, 1991 edition with all standards referenced in Chapter 3212N/A
IN 8 UPC 1997 (Ind. Plumbing Code, 1999 edition)IMC 1996 (Ind. Mechanical Code, 1997 edition)NEC 1999UFC 1997 (Ind. Fire Code, 1998 Edition)MEC 1992 (Ind. Energy Conservation Code)
IAUPC 1994 [Iowa State Building Code 1994 (ISBC)] 6 UMC 1994 [Iowa State Building Code 1994 (ISBC)] 6 NEC 1996 [Iowa State Building Code 1994 (ISBC)] 6 NFPA (State Fire Marshal Rules) 6 MEC 1992; ASHRAE 90.1-1989 (Iowa State Building Code)
KSUPC 1997, no amendments 6 UPC 1997, no amendments 6 NEC 1999, no amendments 6 NFPA 1997; NFPA 101 1997 (Kan. Fire Prevention Code) 7 ASHRAE 90.1-1989 (Kan. Corp. Commission Order), no amendments 11
KY 8 Ky. Plumbing Code 2000NMC 1993 (1997 Ky. Building Code)NEC 1999 (1997 Ky. Building Code)NFPA 1, 1997: NFPA 101, 1997 (1999 Ky. Fire Prevention Code)ASHRAE 90A-1980 & 90B-1975; MEC 1992
LASPC 1991 with 1992 La. Amendments 7 NoneNEC 1996, no amendments 12 NFPA 101, 1997, no amendments 12 ASHRAE 90.1, no amendments 13
MEMaine State Plumbing Code (Code of Maine Rules 10, Chapter 238)NoneNEC 1999NFPA 101, 1997N/A
MDNSPC 1993 with 1994 supplement and Ch. 3 of 1995 supplement 7 IMC 1996 (Model Performance Code), no amendments 6 NEC 1996 (State Fire Prevention Code), no amendments 7 NFPA 1, 1997; NFPA 101, 1997 (State Fire Prevention Code) 7 MEC 1995; NECC 1996 (Building Energy Standards)
MA 8 Mass. State Plumbing Code, CMR 248Mass. State Plumbing Code, CMR 248NEC 1999 (Mass. Elec. Code. CMR 527)Mass. Fire Prevention Regulations, CMR 527ASHRAE 90.1 [Mass. State Building Code, Article 13 (780 CMR)]
MI 8 IPC 1997 (Plumbing Code Rules, Part 7IMC 1996 (Mechanical Code Rules, Part 9a)NEC 1996 (Electrical Code Rules, Part 8)NFPA 101, 1985 14 Michigan Energy Code
MN 8 Minn. Dept. of Health Plumbing Code, Chapter 4715UMC 1991 with 1994 amendments (Minn. Mechanical Code, Minn. Rules, Chapter 1346)NEC 1999 (Minn. State Building Code, Minn. Rules, Chapter 1315)UFC 1997 (Minn. Rules, Chapter 7510)Minn. Energy Code (Minn. Rules, Chapter 7670-7678)
MSSPC 1988, no amendmentsSMC 1988, no amendmentsN/ASFPC 1997 (Miss. Fire Prevention Code) 15 None
MO 8 IPC 1995, no amendmentsIMC 1996, no amendmentsNEC 1999, no amendmentsNFPA 1, 1997: NFPA 101, 1997, no amendmentsASHRAE 90.1-1989, no amendments
MTUPC 1997 (Administrative, Rules of Mont., Ch. 70, Bldg. Codes Bureau) 8 UMC 1997 (Administrative, Rules of Mont., Ch. 70, Bldg. Codes Bureau) 8 NEC 1999 (Administrative Rules of Mont., Ch. 70, Bldg. Codes Bureau) 11 UFC 1994 (Administrative Rules of Mont. Ch. 7) 8 MEC 1993; ASHRAE 90.1 (Administrative Rules of Mont., Chapter 70) 11
NENoneNoneNEC 1999 7 NFPA; NFPA 101, 1994 (Neb. State Fire Code Regulations, Title 153) 7 MEC 1983 16 , IECC 1998 6
NV 7 UPC 1994 (Nev. Revised Statutes, Title 40, Ch. 444)UMC 1991NEC 1993, no amendmentsUFC 1991; NFPA 101, 1994MEC 1986
NHNPC 1993 (State Plumbing Code) 7 NoneNEC 1999 (Electricians Board Rules & State Fire Code) 7 NFPA 1, 1997; NFPA 101, 1997 (State Fire Code) 7 ASHRAE 90.1-1989 18
NJ 6 NSPC 1996 (N.J. Uniform Construction Code) 7 NMC 1993 (N.J. Uniform Construction Code)NEC 1999 (N.J. Uniform Construction Code)NFPC 1996 (N.J. Uniform Construction Code, Sub-chapter 3)NECC 93 (N.J. Uniform
NMUPC 1997 (1997 N.M. Plumbing & Mechanical Code) 7 UMC 1997 (1997 N.M. Plumbing & Mechanical Code) 7 NEC 1999 (1999 N.M. Electrical Code) 7 NFPA 1, 1997: NFPA 101, 1997, no amendments 7 MEC 1986, no amendments 19
NY 7 N.Y. State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, Title 9BN.Y. State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, Title 9BN.Y. State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, Title 9BN.Y. State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, Title 9BN.Y. State Energy Conservation Constr. Code, Title 9G
NC 12 SPC (N.C. State Building Code, Vol. II)SMC (N.C. State Building Code, Vol. III)NEC (N.C. State Building Code, Vol. IV)SFPC (N.C. State Building, Code, Vol. V)ASHRAE 90.1 (N.C. State Building Code, Vol. X)
ND 8 UPC 1996 11 UMC 1997 (N.D. Century Code, State Building Code, Chapter 54-21.3NEC 1999 (N.D. Wiring Standards) 11 UFC 1997: NFPA 101, 1997 11 MEC 1993, no amendments
OH 12 IPC 1995 (Ohio - Plumbing Code 1998 with 1999 amendments)IMC 1996 (Ohio Basic Mechanical Code 1998 with 1999 amendments)NEC 1999 (Ohio Basic Building Code 1998 with 1999 amendments)NFPC 1996 (Ohio Fire Code 1998)MEC 1995: ASHRAE 90.1 (Ohio Basic Building Code 1998, Chapter 13)
OK 12 NoneNoneNoneNFPC 1996: NFPA 101, 1997ASHRAE 90.1 6
ORUPC 1997 (Ore. Plumbing Specialty Code, 2000)IMC 1998 (1999 Ore. Mechanical Specialty Code)NEC 1999 (Ore. Electrical Specialty Code)UFC 1997 (Ore. Fire Code)Ore. Structural Specialty Code, Chapter 13
PANoneNoneNoneFire and Panic Regulations (Penn. Code, Title 34, Chapters 49-59)ASHRAE 90A-1980; ASHRAE 908-1975 (Bldg. Energy Conservation Act), no amendments
RI 8 IPC 1995 (R.I State Building Code)IMC 1996 (R.I. State Building Code)NEC 1996 (R.I. State Building Code)NFPA 101, 1997; NFPA 1, 1997 (R.I. Fire Safety Code)ASHRAE 90.1 (R.I. State Building Code)
SC 8 SPC 1997, no amendmentsSMC 1997, no amendmentsNEC 1999, no amendmentsSFPC 1997, no amendmentsMEC 1995
SDNSPC 1996 (Plumbing Commission Rules) 7 UMC 1994 (Fire Safety Standards) 19 NEC 1999, (Wiring Bulletin of S.D.) 7 UFC 1994 (Fire Safety Standards) 19 None
TN 12 SPC 1997, no amendmentsSMC 1997, no amendmentsNEC 1996 (Rules of the Tenn. Dept. of Commerce & Ins., Ch. 0780-2-1)NFPA 1, 1997; NFPA 101,1997, no amendmentsMEC 1992, no amendments 21
TXNoneNoneNoneNFPA 101, 1994 21 ASHRAE 90.1; MEC 1993 11
UT 8 IPC 1997 (Utah Uniform Bldg. Standard Act Rules, Rule R156-56)IMC 1998 (Utah Uniform Bldg. Standard Act Rules, Rule R156-56)NEC 1996 (Utah Uniform Bldg. Standard Act Rules, Rule R156-56)UFC 1997 (Utah Rules Pursuant to the Utah Fire Prevention Law, Rule R710-9)16MEC 1995; ASHRAE 90.1-1989
VTNPC 1990, (State of Vt. Plumbing Rules) 23 NMC 1987 with 1988 supplement (1994 Vt.- Fire Prevention & Building Code) 7 NEC 1999 (1999 Vt. Electrical Safety Rules)NFPA 1, 1997; NFPA 101,1997 (1999 Vermont Fire Prevention & Building Code) 7 ASHRAE 90.1-1980 (1994 Vermont Fire Prevention & Building Code) 6
VA 8 IPC 1995 with 96 supp. (Va. Uniform Statewide Building Code)IMC 1996 (Va. Uniform Statewide Building Code)NEC 1996 (Va. Statewide Building Code)NFPC 1996 (Va. Statewide Fire Prevention Code), no amendmentsNECC 1996, no amendments
WAUPC 1997 (State Bldg. WAC Chapter 51-46 and 51-47)UMC 1997 (State Bldg. Code, WAC Ch. 51-42)NEC 1999 [Laws, Rules & Reg. for Installing El. Wires & Equip. (WAC) 296-46] 7 UFC 1997 (State Bldg. Code, WAC Chapter 51-44 and 51-45) 7 Wash. State Energy Code (State Bldg. Code, WAC Chapter 51-11)
WV 8 IPC 1995 (State Bldg. Code)IMC 1996 (State Bldg. Code)NEC 1996, (W. Va. State Fire Code)NFPA 101, 1997 [W. Va. State Fire Code (29-3-5)]NECC 1993 (State Bldg. Code)
WI 8 Wis. Administrative Code, Chapters 81-86Wis. Administrative Code, Chapters 45-64NEC 1996 (Wis. Administrative Code, Ch. 16-18)Wis. Administrative Code, Chapter 14Wis. Administrative Code, Chapter 63
WYUPC 1997, no amendments 7 UMC 1997, no amendments 23 NEC 1999, no amendments 7 UFC 1997, no amendments 23 N/A

ASHRAE Forms Code-Development Committee

In an effort to increase the impact that American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineer (ASHRAE) members can have on the formation of model building codes, a new group—the Code Development Committee—has recently been created.

"People have been frustrated that ASHRAE hasn't been able to have more influence, but this new code committee will now accept building-codes proposals from ASHRAE members and then propose them through ASHRAE," explains Bruce Wilcox, P.E., chairman of the Code Interaction subcommittee.

In addition to providing consensus recommendations for code changes, the committee has been established to review and take positions on code revisions proposed to the model codes by other groups, according to Bruce Hunn, ASHRAE's director of technology.

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