The cost-benefit for code changes
Decision making in the public policy arena is increasingly being based on economic indicators. The International Code Council and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) hosted a one day workshop on Oct. 4, 2017— “Economic Impact of Codes and Standards: A Workshop on Needs and Resources” — to review case studies, data and methodologies measuring economic impacts from various industries and sectors and assess how they can inform similar studies related to codes and standards. The goal was to develop a list of key methodologies, tools and data sources to inform economic impact studies related to codes and standards as well as identify next steps related to needs related to this issue.
International Code Council Government Relations staff joined representatives from the the United States Department of Energy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Energy Efficient Codes Coalition, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Government Accountability Office, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and others.
In today’s environment of extreme economic pressures on local jurisdictions, the focus has turned more toward the costs of protection. Stakeholders want more information about the cost-benefits for code changes or code adoptions related to building, fire or electrical safety. Today’s building and fire departments and other industry advocates are focused on reducing the overall risk through a combination of protection, prevention and other programs. They seek tools to evaluate the socio-economic benefit of these interventions to inform policy decisions with cost-benefit information on this aspect of safety.
The following presentations and discussions from the break out groups and summary observations related to codes and standards were made and should be used to guide future work:
The building industry needs more information on societal cost. What is the true impact of a code adoption or code change on individuals? What is the recovery time from a disaster/event?
More information on the link of code violations/noncompliance and role in an event is needed. What are the top issues that are not enforced and what is the associated risk?
A look at the longer-term, overall impact of codes on costs is needed. A prioritization of the issues related to short-term and long-term efforts is needed. Problem areas need to be targeted. There are numerous updates in the 2018 International Codes that reduce construction cost without compromising safety. ICC CP#28–05 — Code Development (Sections 188.8.131.52 and 6.4.6 Cost Impact) addresses the cost impact of public comments to code change proposals.
An argument for code enforcement involving litigation, safety, societal impacts, etc., is needed.