IRCC meets in Vienna
International Code Council Board of Directors President Jay Elbettar Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO, led an ICC team to the Inter-Jurisdictional Regulatory Collaboration Committee (IRCC) meeting in Vienna, Austria, in May 2018. The IRCC is a network of building regulatory officials from 14 countries that meet twice annually to discuss developments in performance-based building regulatory system. The Code Council represents the United States in these meetings.
The meeting in Vienna included a half-day workshop on Sustainability in the Construction Sector, at which ICC Executive Director for Sustainability Programs Dave Walls presented an overview of sustainable codes in the U.S. The workshop, as well as the IRCC business meetings, focused a great deal on energy efficiency and green building standards, particularly as most participating countries are signatories to the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and are focused on achieving their mandated goals under that agreement. The European Commission is also issuing new regulations and standards, which members are working to understand and implement. One particular area of discussion was how countries are defining “net zero” emissions in the built environment, and variations such as “net zero-ready” and “nearly net zero.”
In addition to the discussions about sustainability, participating countries shared challenges and best practices related to compliance with existing building codes, including verification, plan review and use of building information modeling systems. Many of the participating countries, like ICC in the U.S., are working to develop new regulations for tall wooden buildings. The discussion focused on encapsulation and fire safety. Fire safety was also a topic of discussion related to the use of cladding and building code enforcement in the wake of the Grenfell Towers fire that occurred in London in June 2017. The Chief Executive of Local Area Building Control in England and Wales provided an overview of the recently released final report of England’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, chaired by Dame Judith Hackitt.
Dominic Sims and Jay Elbettar provided the overview of key and emerging issues in the built environment in the U.S. Their presentation included discussions of natural disasters, cladding, tall wood buildings, structural failures, and safety and security in the wake of mass shootings.
The IRCC is an important forum to focus international efforts among like-minded regulatory officials. Many of the issues we face are universal and having the opportunity to learn from the successes and failures of our international contemporaries widens our perspective and adds value to our stakeholders in the U.S.