ICC members: The individuals behind codes and safety — Robert Lennen
Code professionals ensure building safety today, for a stronger tomorrow. As the individuals behind modern codes and standards, these professionals are responsible for ensuring the safety and compliance of codes and standards, shaping the safety of the world around us, and serve as the safety foundation for our buildings. They don’t just ensure that buildings are constructed to withstand the stress of everyday use, they are behind the security and stability of every building. They specialize in preventative measures to help communities weather unforeseen natural disasters and ensure that first responders have less to worry about and can do their jobs safely. Code professionals are an essential piece in the building and construction puzzle and are engaged in the building process from the initial building plan to the finished product.
The International Code Council is a member-focused association with over 64,000 members dedicated to developing model codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures. They protect the public through their commitment to building safety; enforce code compliance to empower and educate stakeholders across the built environment to embrace and integrate safety standards in their work; support economic development by making our buildings sturdier, and therefore longer lasting. Their knowledge, skills, and abilities impact every building, in every community.
The Code Council recognizes the importance of continuing to grow awareness of the important work that code professionals do and the impact they have, in the hopes of encouraging aspiring building safety professionals to join in on the building safety movement. In this exclusive feature for the Building Safety Journal, we asked Robert Lennen to share his experience in the industry, highlights of his professional career, and any insights or advice he has concerning the industry and the future of building safety.
Acting Building Official
City of Campbell
Campbell, California, United States
International Code Council member for 10 years
BSJ: What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession in building safety?
Lennen: I am the son of a general contractor and received my own license at age 21. In 1982 I received my first ICBO code certification for 1994 UBC. I do not remember when I first became an ICC member but most likely about 2010. During my career, I have seen many examples of cutting corners and inferior construction. Code compliance saves lives, money, and keeps us all out of litigation. I am not sure that I chose this career but rather the industry chose me.
BSJ: What three things do you need to be successful in this industry and in your profession?
Lennen: A clear vision of why we build, how to build, and to simplify what we do in order to teach those that do not understand.
BSJ: What role have mentors, advisors or your network played in your career?
Lennen: The people involved with my career have each had an impact to springboard my abilities and knowledge beyond any expectation that I could have had. Now, more than ever, I feel the need to reciprocate the efforts.
BSJ: What led you to become an ICC member?
Lennen: ICC is the summary of purpose for my industry. We are ICC.
BSJ: Are you involved in any ICC committees or councils? Do you have any ICC certifications?
Lennen: I am distantly involved with Peninsula ICC, having 16 certifications.
BSJ: How long have you been in the industry?
Lennen: 48 years
BSJ: What major changes have you seen?
Lennen: The sheer volume of our governing documents that are now inclusive of WUI, energy, conservation, accessibility and the protection for more natural disasters than ever before.
BSJ: What excites you about the future of your industry?
Lennen: Licensing our industry professionals essentially identifies the experts in our field. ICC certifications have an equal value to my college degree.
BSJ: What is one piece of advice that you would give to those starting out in the industry?
Lennen: Your industry is like a sports team; play every position to become better at the position of your choice.
BSJ: What do you see as most surprising about the work that you do?
Lennen: There is no limit to the direction I may take or to the level of knowledge I chose to gain. A long time ago I was a construction worker, evolving to a tradesman, a contractor, a designer, an inspector, an expert, a plan checker, a teaching manager, a building official, perhaps someday a code author. Now that is an exciting and enriching career.
BSJ: What would you like to do next in your professional/personal life?
Lennen: I would like to teach others how to be a contributing part of the building industry while improving my golf game.
BSJ: What do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?
Lennen: Laughing, eating, and drinking with friends, family, and colleagues.
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title would be?
Lennen: Passion Your Profession
There’s a world of opportunity in being a member of the International Code Council. Membership provides the tools to get the most out of each workday: from discounts on essential International Codes and other publications to the best prices on top-quality training and ICC certification renewals, Code Council membership helps budgets go further. Exclusive member benefits include code advice from expert technical staff as well as access to member-exclusive news and articles at the Building Safety Journal news portal. Plus, only Code Council members vote in the ICC code development process. An online Career Center allows job postings and searches for new job opportunities — all at no additional charge.
The Code Council offers numerous councils, committees, and resources to help code professionals grow and network with colleagues. Six discipline-specific Membership Councils offer members a place to come together and be a more powerful force in shaping your association, your industry, your career, and your future. Code Development Committees are an instrumental part of the ICC code development process and are responsible for the review and evaluation of code change proposals submitted to the International Codes. Professional Development Committees serve to better align the ICC education programs and certification programs to ensure that quality training is available to meet the needs of all members, customers and certification holders. Finally, the Value of the Code Official toolkit helps members to heighten awareness of the importance of code officials to their communities and to highlight the code official’s role as a helpful advocate for community safety, health and welfare, and economic development.