Industry can expect increased focus on building and energy codes

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Kathy Krafka Harkema, Director of Technical Operations for the Fenestration & Glazing Industry Alliance, provides an update on US codes during the 2022 FGIA Virtual Summer Conference on Wednesday, June 8.

The fenestration and glazing industries should prepare to focus more on U.S. code updates, says Kathy Krafka Harkema, director of technical operations for the Fenestration & Glazing Industry Alliance. She told attendees at the FGIA 2022 virtual summer conference last week that the Department of Energy will use $225 million from the bipartisan Infrastructure Act to help America meet its 2035 and 2050 energy goals. .

During a session on Wednesday, June 8, Krafka Harkema indicated that the industry can expect to spend more time and money in the near future on code updates.

“The Department of Energy has released $225 million from the federal government to help get the code passed,” she says. “Their goal is to make building codes stricter. It’s not just at the international code level; the federal government also gets its hands on state codes and local codes.

According to Krafka Harkema, the federal government feels it needs to adopt stricter building codes, especially energy codes. The effort comes as the federal government aims for the United States to achieve a 100% clean electric grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“So the federal government is stepping in and believing their job is to optimize the building code adoption process,” says Krafka Harkema.

The International Code Council is currently working on its Group B cycle, which includes Structural Provisions, International Residential Code, International Existing Building Code, Non-Structural Provisions, Administrative Provisions and more. The ICC committee action hearing held at the end of March 2022 saw the acceptance of 25 FGIA proposals.

For example, the codes have received additional clarification regarding definitions, window fall prevention and screening. The Group B public comment deadline is June 20 with public hearings scheduled for mid-September 2022. The final action could be released in early 2023.

The ICC Board also gave the green light to a recommendation to include two committee action hearings for the Group A and Group B cycles from 2024 for the development of international codes of 2027. She explained that in the most recent cycle, the publication of the codes was delayed due to the large number of public comments received towards the end of the cycle.

“They think it’s important to give committees two chances to review these code proposals early on and early in the code process,” Krafka Harkema said. “Their goal then is to hopefully have fewer public comments to deal with at the end of a cycle.”

Referring to the International Energy Conservation Code, Krafka Harkema indicates that further changes and requirements are underway for the U-factor and solar heat gain coefficients. The IECC, which now has its own standards development process, includes several committees such as residential, commercial and others, as well as subcommittees.

Krafka Harkema says most subcommittees finished their code work in May, with some finishing in June. The first draft of public comments is expected in mid-August, with the IECC’s publication scheduled for fall 2023.

“There’s a lot of pressure on our industry to make our products much more energy efficient,” she says.

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