Planning ahead

Development of the 2021 I-Codes is underway

Between April 28 and May 8, NRCA participated in the International Code Council®’s 2019 Group B Committee Action Hearings in Albuquerque, N.M., for development of the 2021 I-Codes. Following is a brief summary of ICC’s code development process and some roofing-related code change proposals being considered.

ICC process

ICC develops and publishes its 15 model codes on a three-year cycle; a list of the individual I-Codes is provided below. The current 2018 editions of the I-Codes were published in 2017.

The next editions of the I-Codes will be published as 2021 editions, likely available in late 2020.

ICC’s model codes are updated and revised by ICC’s code development process. Interested parties are encouraged to submit code change proposals to ICC periodically. An ICC code development committee evaluates each of the code change proposals submitted and makes recommendations to ICC’s governmental voting members. Individual ICC code development committees consider the code change proposals for a specific code or, in some instances, specific chapters or portions of chapters of a code.

The code development committees meet in two groups, referred to as Group A and Group B. For the current code development cycle, Group A committees met in 2018 and addressed code change proposals to portions of the International Building Code® and International Residential Code,® and the International Fire Code,® International Fuel Gas Code,® International Mechanical Code,® International Plumbing Code,® International Private Sewage Disposal Code,® ICC Performance Code,® International Property Maintenance Code,® International Swimming Pool and Spa Code,® International Wildland Urban Interface Code® and International Zoning Code.® This year, Group B committees met addressing code change proposals to the remaining portions of the IBC and IRC, and International Existing Building Code,® International Energy Conservation Code® and International Green Construction Code.®

IBC’s Chapter 15-Roofing is unique in that several code development committees are responsible for considering its code change proposals. IBC’s Structural Code Development Committee, which meets in Group B, is primarily responsible for Chapter 15’s content. However, ICC’s fire safety, general and plumbing committees are responsible for specific portions of Chapter 15 in Group A. As a result, proposed code changes to Chapter 15 are heard over a two-year period in each cycle.

Group A concluded in October 2018 with ICC’s public comment hearing at ICC’s Annual Conference in Richmond, Va., followed by ICC’s online governmental consensus vote.

Group B changes

Code change proposals for ICC’s Group B were due Jan. 7. NRCA submitted 17 code change proposals for consideration. NRCA’s code change proposals are intended to clarify the codes’ intent and streamline compliance.

One of the code changes NRCA submitted was accepted administratively before the Group B committee hearings as an errata to the 2018 I-Codes. This particular code change correlates the requirements for reroofing in IEBC 2018 to those in IBC 2018.

Of NRCA’s 16 remaining code change proposals, 11 were recommended for approval by ICC’s code development committees. Some of NRCA’s more noteworthy changes follow:

  • Code Change S31-19 reformats IBC 2018’s requirements for single-ply membrane roof systems into a single section with a new consolidated single-ply membrane material standards table.
  • Code Change S35-19 provides a new section addressing roof coatings consolidating IBC 2018’s requirements, which were incomplete and spread throughout Chapter 15.
  • Code Change S39-19 clarifies dimensions for ASCE 7-16’s wind uplift zones (field, perimeter and corner) are required to be provided in construction documents.
  • Code Change CE71-19 provides roof assembly-specific provisions to the energy code’s U-factor method and allows the minimum-required R-value for above-deck tapered insulation to be determined by the average R-value method.
  • Code Change CE102-19 adds single-ply membrane roof systems to the energy code’s air barrier requirement deemed-to-comply option.

In addition to the code changes NRCA submitted, NRCA also provided testimony opposing a number of roofing-related code changes NRCA’s Technical Operations Committee deemed as either unnecessary, not technically justified or contrary to the roofing industry’s best interests. For example, NRCA successfully opposed a code change proposal that attempts to mandate in reroofing projects roof drainage (roof drains, scuppers and gutters) be upgraded to the current plumbing code’s requirements.

What’s next

ICC will accept public comments on the code development committees’ actions on all Group B code change proposals until July 24.

ICC’s final action on Group B code change proposals will take place at ICC’s public comment hearing held at its 2019 Annual Conference, Oct. 23-30, in Clark County, Nev., and ICC’s online governmental consensus vote, which will be held in November and December.

Code change proposals approved at the public comment hearing and online governmental consensus vote—along with those approved during the Group A process—will be published in the 2021 I-Codes.

After the Group B online governmental consensus vote, I will provide an update on code changes that will be incorporated into the 2021 I-Codes.

Mark S. Graham is NRCA's vice president of technical services.

The I-Codes

ICC Performance Code®
International Building Code®
International Energy Conservation Code®
International Existing Building Code®
International Fire Code®
International Fuel Gas Code®
International Green Construction Code®
International Mechanical Code®
International Plumbing Code®
International Private Sewage Disposal Code®
International Property Maintenance Code®
International Residential Code for One- and Two-family Dwellings®
International Swimming Pool and Spa Code®
International Wildland Urban Interface Code®
International Zoning Code®

Additional information about the I-Codes is accessible at

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