Code development: A process of evolution and improvement
The International Code Council has the premier codes and standards development process supported by a broad cross-section of the building and construction industry. We believe in transparency and openness. We welcome all interested parties to participate. But that doesn’t mean there is no room for improvement. In fact, our process has a number of safeguards built in that have ensured constant improvement since the 1970s and the legacy codes. These safeguards continue to allow for evolution now and into the future.
As a part of our established process, several appeals have been filed in response to the 2019 Group B cycle. These appeals are currently making their way through the system. While some of these issues will be dealt with through the appeals process, other elements have raised opportunities for improvement in the long-term code development process. Those issues will be referred to a committee that was created to deal with long-term changes. Let’s dive in to better understand where we are, where we’re going and what’s going to happen in between.
The Code Council has received six appeals in regards to the 2019 Group B cycle. An individual appeal may cover multiple issues, but overall this group of appeals falls into five categories:
- Preemption — Three of the appeals assert that certain code changes are preempted by federal law.
- Scoping and intent — Two of the appeals assert that the scope of certain code changes extends beyond the “Intent” section of the respective codes (Chapter 1 of the IECC and Chapter 11 of the IRC).
- Voter eligibility — Two of the appeals question the definition of voters in the bylaws and whether the Code Council properly validated voters to ensure online voters truly complied with eligibility criteria.
- Impact of online voting — Two of the appeals question the number of code changes that were overturned from disapproval at both the Committee Action Hearings and Public Comment Hearings to approval (requiring a two-thirds majority) during the online vote, the use of voting guides and whether voters considered the potential cost impact of certain code changes.
- Technical— One appeal questions the technical merits of denial of the appellant’s proposed code changes.
The Appeals Board will closely examine each of the submitted complaints to determine if any policies, procedures or established rules have been broken as stipulated in Council Policy 1 Appeals. “The ability to appeal decisions made during the code hearings is an essential component of the Code Council process,” said Cindy Davis, CBO, vice president of the Code Council Board of Directors and chair of the Appeals Board. “Checks and balances like these ensure that every interested industry member is able to voice their concerns and ensures we have the strongest codes possible.”
The next steps in the appeals process include establishing the members of the Appeals Board and notifying all interested parties about the appeal specifics. As set by council policy, with the 30-day deadline extended by 45 days by the Code Council Board of Directors as noted on the appeals website, these steps will be completed by Wednesday, July 22, 2020. After that, the Code Council will set hearing dates and then the appeals hearings will take place. Due to COVID-19, all hearings will occur virtually this year. An audio stream will be available on ICCsafe.org to those who would like to attend.
Blue Ribbon Committee
Some of the issues outlined above are unlikely to result in changes via the appeals process as they do not address deviations from established policies. Instead, they bring up issues with how the policies have been set previously. The Code Council takes a deeper look at our process to see what improvements we can make about every six years. After the 2018 cycle, the Code Council Board of Directors established the Board Committee on the Long Term Code Development Process to evaluate changes that need to be made to the policies. This committee — also known as the Blue Ribbon Committee — is a formal venue for stakeholders to provide feedback on the process itself and suggest changes.
The Blue Ribbon Committee is scheduled to address the following key issues, to name a few:
- Cost impact;
- Eligible voters;
- Online voting majorities and relationship to the hearing actions;
- Voting guides; and,
- Feedback received on proposed process restructuring to include two Committee Action Hearings.
On the subject of voter eligibility, any recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Committee will be referred to the Bylaws Committee, which is currently meeting regularly.
The Blue Ribbon Committee is scheduled to meet on July 9, 2020. Moving forward, there will be many opportunities for interested parties to participate. Stay tuned for additional announcements on upcoming meetings and subcommittees.
Decisions and recommendations from the Appeals Board, Blue Ribbon Committee and others will make their way to the Code Council Board of Directors for action and implementation. The Code Council board has broad authority and responsibility to safeguard the code development process. They take this responsibility very seriously.
The strength of the code development process lies in our ability to evolve and improve as new information and new technology becomes available. The Code Council is committed to bringing all stakeholders together to create modern, cost-effective building codes used around the world. We can only do that with your regular participation in the process.
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