Should building codes change?

Jan 24 '13 19 Last Comment
Jan 24, 13 8:14 am

Building codes are made to protect public safety and health in the built enviroment, but they ignore the impacts on resources and the enviroment. The result is the destruction of ecosystems that sustain us. Sustainable design is the solution to the problem it protects resources and the enviroment.

Should building codes enforce sustainable design?


Jan 24, 13 8:25 am

Speaking from my experience with Canada here, Building codes are a minimum standard, you can go above and beyond to use products that perform at or exceeded the minimum standards while being sustainable. You just need to show that the products and methods used satisfy the code requirements, meaning you can be creative in how to satisfy the code while being more sustainable. As to enforcing sustainable approaches, I know here in Alberta, and other parts of Canada there has been talk about adding a model energy code addition to our current building code set. It would require every building to achieve a certain level of efficiency to pass. I just haven't heard of it being instituted officially yet. It does create quite a stir among developers who like to skate at the minimum levels of everything as they don't want to put in the money, but I think it is an interesting proposition.

Jan 24, 13 9:10 am

building codes do change, and they are changing towards encouraging more environmentally sustainable design.  there is an international energy conservation code which is part of the icc code family, which might be scoped in the IBC.  Your local jurisdiction may not enforce it, but that's quite possibly because they don't know they've enacted it in their local municipal ordinances.

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Jan 24, 13 10:19 am

The local municipality enacted a HERS that gives points for various energy features and increases the rating required with square footage. Unfortunately, geothermal is given a very large credit for efficiency, so nearly every residential project ends up with one of these systems. Nearly all subsequently install a conventional boiler system to reduce cost and increase efficiency. It's so bad that most subs preplumb for a boiler installation after the CO.

To make matters worse, contractors usually supply their own raters. The real fun begins when a rater who works for a different contractor (one who didn't get the job) is used ...

This system is so fundamentally corrupt and broken that it simply becomes extortion on multiple levels. So the real question is not should building codes change but how and by who should they be changed.

Jan 24, 13 11:28 am

Good anwser we should not wait to be forced to make a difference but act own our own.

Jan 26, 13 1:00 pm

Alot of US states already enforce energy standards in the code.  To make them much more stringent I think would hurt the recovery in our industry, as building costs would have to rise substantially. 

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Jan 26, 13 2:45 pm

Bullshit. That's the old seat belt / gas mileage argument applied to building construction - it costs too much to change! It also ignores basic facts such as the economic and environmental savings of lower energy use as well as the many, many neutral- and low-cost techniques for increasing the energy efficiency of buildings.

Jan 27, 13 11:26 am

You'll never find a developer complain about saving money.  If more stringent energy codes can be enforced in ways that won't jack up the cost of construction substantially, I'm all for it.  However, I think alot of the cheaper, common sense solutions, aren't really prescribed in the current energy codes and any good architect would already take those into account.

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Jan 27, 13 11:53 am

If changes in the code increase construction costs developers will - if they can't simply find ways around them - pass the costs along to tenants / purchasers. Once while negotiating with a developer to design a spec house, I offered a very low fee up front with a rewarding percentage on the sale. The developer was appalled. He said he'd done dozens of spec houses and never made a penny on any of them. I replied that he was either a liar or an idiot, and that in neither case would I work for him.

Jan 27, 13 1:10 pm

LOL, if he'd never made a penny why was he doing building and selling spec homes?  Definitely would've had to go to court to get paid on that job.

Jan 30, 13 11:04 pm

If you think codes don't consider sustainability then you don't know the code.

On the fence
Jan 31, 13 10:56 am

Building codes are minimums.  You are supposed to be architects here.  Stop trying to build to a minimum code level.

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Jan 31, 13 11:12 am

Codes, like laws, are largely written with commercial interests in mind.

Jan 31, 13 11:49 am

Sure miles. It's all the developers who are trying to protect the public health and welfare.

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Jan 31, 13 12:30 pm

gruen, you're absolutely right. It has nothing to do with insurance companies who don't like making payouts or the purveyors of specific products and services that become mandated by the codes. Nothing whatsoever. It's all pure altruism designed to protect and serve the public.


Feb 1, 13 12:09 pm


I started this post because of a mechanical and electrical equipment class question that arose in class. It was said that the codes(i have taken a building and bariirer free codes class so i am a little familar with codes and the IBC and all that) did'nt take into consideration the enviroment and such and that is why we have sustainability. So I asked my teacher mr peacock why does'nt the codes change to respect the enviroment and he gave an answer, but just wanted to know what people in the industry thought about this. 

Feb 1, 13 12:25 pm

is your professor still on boca?

Feb 1, 13 12:28 pm



lol uhhh sure

he is a registered architect and like 80 years old

Feb 1, 13 12:30 pm

he is also a gc

Feb 1, 13 12:34 pm
  • ×Search in:

Please wait... loading
Please wait... loading