Primer on Code Council standards development: Introduction
While the International Code Council is best known for the development of model building codes — the International Codes or I-Codes — the Code Council has a growing suite of standards. As most I-Code users know, the codes often point to standards that are not developed within the code development process but provide further direction or specialized information. Some of those standards are developed by the Code Council.
Over the next few months, this column will provide information on the standards development process — specifically for stakeholders interested in getting involved in the Code Council’s standards activities.
Standards are typically developed under the direction of a standards development organization (SDO) that has specialized expertise and a documented process that follows key principles. In the U.S., many standards are developed by an SDO accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI has identified essential requirements to guide standards development in the U.S. These requirements include openness, balance, due process, consensus and a right to appeal. These requirements have also been recognized by the federal government.
From these essential requirements, SDOs develop consensus procedures that guide their processes for developing standards and set the expectations for anyone participating in the standards development process. At the Code Council, the standards development process is documented in Council Policy 12 (CP 12) and the Code Council’s Consensus Procedures. The Code Council’s Consensus Procedures undergo periodic revisions to comply with the essential requirements and are written such that standards can be developed in the most time-efficient manner. The Code Council’s current Consensus Procedures were approved by ANSI in April 2020.
Council Policy 12 covers the process for beginning work on a new standard, including considerations on the needs the standards will fulfill and any existing standards on similar subjects. As noted in CP 12’s purpose statement, “In order to accomplish the ICC mission of providing a coordinated and comprehensive set of model codes as well as regulatory documents supporting the built environment, it is necessary to assure the availability of acceptable standards. This policy gives general criteria regarding the development and maintenance of standards by the ICC. This policy is intended to work in concert with the ANSI-approved ICC Consensus Procedures, which regulate the development and update of ICC standards.”
The ICC Consensus Procedures outline the roles and responsibilities of the Code Council Board of Directors and the standards development committees. Standards development relies heavily on committees to determine the final content of the standard. The Consensus Procedures cover the formation of standard development committees, including the requirements to demonstrate balance across different interest categories. The Code Council has identified nine interest categories that should be considered in the formation of committees: manufacturer, builder, standards promulgator/testing laboratory, user, utility, consumer, public segment, government regulator and insurance.
In addition, the Consensus Procedures include requirements for the conduct of meetings, the required steps in the standards development process (including when and how public input must be sought), and the procedures for appeals. Future editions of this column will cover these requirements in more depth. For even more details, consult the Code Council’s Standards Development Webpage.