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1 INTRODUCTION This document is the final report of a study conducted by the Building Research Board's Committee on Assessing the Impact on Federal Agencies of Use of Building Codes as Design Criteria. This committee met during a period of about nine months, commencing in May, 1988 to evaluate suggestions that federal agencies should replace some or all of their building design criteria with state, local, or national model building codes. During the course of the committee's study, the U.S. Congress passed into law the "Public Buildings Amendment Act of 1988.~2 This act requires that federal building construction comply, to the maximum extent feasible, with one of the nationally recognized model building codes. Recognizing that the implications of this new law may differ substan- tially from one agency to another, the committee undertook to look beyond its original charge and to offer guidance on how federal agencies might best respond to the law's requirements. Origin of the Suggestions Most private construction in the United States is regulated by state or local government-enacted building codes and zoning regulations intended to protect the safety, health and welfare of building occupants and the community at large. Individual building owners establish their own criteria, sometimes extensive, for a building's design, construction, and operations, but in matters covered by government codes and regula- tions, the building must meet requirements set by law and ordinance. Consequently, few private building owners concern themselves directly with the building characteristics covered by codes, and entrust to their engineers and architects the responsibility to assure that code require- ments are met, and these professionals in turn must work with responsible local officials to assure code compliance. Building code regulations are adopted by the governing body having authority to do so in a particular jurisdiction. In most areas of the United States, local government has been given the major share of that authority. Some 16 states now exercise broad powers over building, in iPL 100-678; 40 CFR 601-616 1
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the form of statewide codes, and most others impose regulations in such areas as energy conservation and access for handicapped persons. Buildings may be subject to additional federal or state regulations, usually as a condition of funds used in construction of facilities such as prisons or hospitals. The majority of these many regulations are contained, directly or by reference, in the local jurisdiction's official building code.3 The building codes in many jurisdictions are based on one of the several model building codes. While historic precedent has led to broad similarity among building codes in nearby jurisdictions, codes found in different parts of the country may differ substantially in their format and substance. Even those jurisdictions using the same basic model code may introduce differences in the specific provisions of their codes through their dependence on different editions of the published model code or their desire to protect the unique interests of their local community or interest groups. Federal agencies are exempt from these state and local building codes (and from zoning laws as well), and are entirely responsible for all aspects of safety and health in their facilities. As a result, most of the 30 or more federal agencies with statutory authority to procure construction and related professional services have included requirements in their.criteria for design and construction requirements that address the same concerns as local building codes, but may not apply the same standards. In recent years, suggestions have been made that federal agencies should adopt applicable state or local codes in lieu of their own criteria.5 The Council of American Building Officials (CABO) has taken such a stance, for example, as have some local and state government officials. Federal policy6 encourages agencies to adopt product standards set by the private sector when these standards are adequate for the agency's needs. This policy has led to suggestions that agencies should use 3The term building code is used here to include all codes that apply to structure, fire protection, plumbing, electrical systems, and other elements of buildings. Chapter 4. 4Terms such as code and model code have particular meanings that are sometimes confusing in discussions of these topics. The committee has adopted the definitions presented later in this chapter. 5The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has in fact substantially reduced the bulk of the agency's Minimum Property Standards (MPS) and now accepts compliance with local codes in determining whether housing is eligible for mortgage insurance or other assistance under Federal Housing Administration programs. However, HUD is not an owner of the resulting buildings and thereby differs substantially from other agencies being considered here. 60ffice of Management and Budget Circular A-119, discussed in 2
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national model codes -- upon which almost all local building codes are based -- in lieu of their own criteria. Some Key Definitions No standard terminology is universally accepted for discussion of building codes and regulations. The committee found that even among themselves there was a need to establish a consistent set of definitions of key terms. Drawing primarily upon Standard Terminology of Building Constructions issued by ASTM (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials), the committee adopted the following definitions: Building -- a shelter comprising a partially or totally enclosed space, erected by means of a planned process of forming and combining materials. Buildings serve a variety of functions -- as offices, housing, storage, or other uses -- that influence the performance characteristics required of a building. Building performance -- the behavior of a building in service, generally described in terms of the ability of the building to support the functions it serves. Building life cycle -- an imprecise term of the period of time and course of events of a building's construction and use. The life cycle may extend for many years and include significant maintenance, repair, and alteration activities. For purposes of design and economic analysis, the life cycle is often defined as the time from completion of a building's construction until the building is demolished or so completely rebuilt that it is essentially a new building, typically 30 to 50 years. Owner's requirements -- the characteristics of a building and the building 's performances that an owner requires to assure that the building serves the purpose for which it is intended. Owner's requirements may depend on the owner's particular interests or mission, including whether the owner expects to retain ownership beyond completion of construction and to rent the building to others or to use it for his own activities. Criterion --an established precedent, rule, measure, or code upon which a decision is based. Standard -- a definite rule or measure adopted by recognized authority as a basis for judging quality or quantity. Standards, termed "voluntary," may be promulgated by professional organizations, governmental agencies, trade groups, or independent expertise, and may be adopted in owners' criteria or codes. The committee estimates that more than 125 such 7Terms in italics are defined in this section of the report. 3
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groups produce building standards. Among the more widely adopted standards in building are those developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), ASTM (formerly American Society for Testing and Materials), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the American Institute for Steel Construction (AISC), and the American Concrete Institute (ACI). Such standards may also be termed '"consensus'' or ''industry" standards. Standards applicable to buildings may also be established by legislation, for example with respect to energy conser- vation, air quality, or exposure to hazardous materials, or by general government regulations. These standards may be termed ''statutory standards." Design criteria -- the set of criteria established by a building owner as factors for determining whether a building's design and construction are acceptable. Design criteria are based on owner's requirements and applicable government regulations. These criteria, also termed "owner's criteria," may be adopted directly by the actual building owner or indirectly by the owner's selected designer. Many owners and managers of large numbers of buildings (such as major industrial firms, real estate developers and managers, and federal agencies) have assembled and formalized their building design criteria into design guideline docu- ments or manuals. Design criteria generally incorporate a range of criteria and standards intended to assure acceptable performance of a building, which include implicitly or by reference applicable building codes. However, owner's criteria include many items not covered by codes and may include standards that exceed levels adopted in building codes. Code -- a collection of laws, regulations, ordinances, or other statutory requirements adopted by government legislative authority. Some profes- sional and trade organizations have published advisory documents that they term ''codes'' (see also model code) , but these documents do not have the force of law (unless adopted by a government body) and therefore are really collections of promulgated cri teria and s tandards , rather than codes. Building code -- a code applicable to buildings, adopted by a government body and administered with the primary intent of protecting public safety, health, and welfare; generally includes both review and approval process requirements and specific technical standards. Model code -- a proposed code that is established within the procedural context of a group of knowledgeable people, often working within the framework of a professional organization, and is designed for adoption by responsible governmental authority. There currently are three major organizations that have developed model codes that have been adopted -- often with modification -- as the basis for building codes in various jurisdictions: the Southern Building Codes Congress International (SBCCI), the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), and the Building Officials and Codes Administrators International (BOCA). There are other organizations that promulgate model codes that typically are limited in scope. 4