Building codes are a critical part of the engineering process. These codes outline the minimum and maximum standards for constructing a structure. Whether the goal is fire prevention or environmental concerns, building codes go through every aspect of a structure to ensure it protects public health, safety and general welfare. Building codes originated from multiple cities as early as the 1600s. Modern day codes are updated frequently and enforced by multiple agencies.
The International Code Council (ICC) is one such agency that reviews and produces building codes. This agency is dedicated to developing model codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures. Fifty states and the District of Columbia have adopted the I-Codes at the state or jurisdictional level. The codes are updated every 3 years in order to stay current. A unique thing about these codes is that they are not required by all states. For example, the state of Pennsylvania elected to not adopt the codes changes in 2012 after an extensive review by their Uniform Construction Code Review and Advisory Council.
Each state also has their own set of codes. For example, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation produces the Florida Building Code every few years. This code is updated and implemented across the entire state. It was most recently updated in 2017 with full implementation starting on Jan. 1, 2018. The code will most likely be updated again in 2020. These codes include all areas of construction from engineering for hurricanes to energy conservation. Building departments will review plans and projects to ensure they are complying with the ever-changing code.
The building code exists to protect both the general public and the engineers and contractors that follow it. The minimum standards are provided so that structural designers know the threshold and can provide adequate changes for additional strength and changes. Having a code allows engineers to include their own safety factors on top of those set by the code, ensuring the structure is safe and sound throughout the construction process and during occupancy. ORB always stays on top of the ever-changing code to provide the safest structural engineering possible.
More to come soon.