FEMA and ICC 2021 – Important recommendations regarding the 2021 International Codes

FEMA is providing a summary email to highlight code change proposals for the 2021 editions of the International Building Code (IBC), International Existing Building Code (IEBC), and International Residential Code (IRC) that are important to mitigating natural hazards.

ICC Governmental Member Voting Representatives and Honorary Members will be able to view the Public Comment Hearings and participate in the Online Governmental Consensus Vote (OGCV). Eligible voting members can log-in to review public hearing testimony and vote on code change proposals using ICC’s cdpACCESS® which can be accessed at https://cdpaccess.com/.

This is the final opportunity to participate in the code development process for the 2021 building codes. The OGCV opened on November 18 and will close on December 5, 2019. A complete list of OGCV provisions and voting options can be accessed at https://www.iccsafe.org/products-and-services/i-codes/code-development/current-code-development-cycle/.

The following summary of proposals and FEMA recommended positions for each are intended to be supplemental information only and are not a substitute to accessing and reviewing the actual proposals as published by the ICC.

The acronyms are defined as follows:

·        approval As Submitted (AS);

·        approval As Modified at the Committee Action Hearing (AM);

·        approval as Modified by Public Comment (AMPC). If there are multiple comments, the comment # will be shown after AMPC; and

·        disapproved (D).

Multi-Hazard

ADM10-19, Part II

Recommended Vote: D (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal set out to create uniformity across the I-codes for Section 101.3 language describing the intent of the code. In doing so it introduced items that are not commonly addressed by the code provisions, and unclear, undefined terms relating to environmental loads and other hazards. Public comments attempting to correct the intent were not approved at the PCH, so it is appropriate to disapprove the proposal and revert back to current code language.

S44-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC1 (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal, as modified by public comment one, revises triggers for Risk Category III occupancy in IBC Table 1604.5. A Risk Category III trigger is added for structures that contain one or more public assembly spaces, each space having occupant loads greater than 300 and having a cumulative occupant load of these public assembly spaces of greater than 2500. This will move some hotels and similar occupancies that have assembly spaces but do not have assembly as the primary occupancy from Risk Category II to Risk Category III, thereby increasing resistance to seismic and other environmental loads.

S86-19

Recommended Vote: D (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal revises Exception 2 of IBC Section 1704.2 (special inspections and tests), thereby broadly exempting detached one- and two-family dwellings from special inspection. This is being opposed because the quality assurance provided by special inspection is very important to the resistance of engineered structures, including dwellings, to seismic and other environmental loads. Other provisions already allow exemption from special inspection for dwellings constructed using conventional/ prescriptive construction methods and engineered systems of a less critical nature. This change proposal, if passed, will lower the resistance of applicable dwellings to seismic and other environmental hazards.

S90-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC1 (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal, as modified by Public Comment 1, adds language to existing IBC Section 1706.6 to better clarify the intended scope of structural observation.

S98-19

Recommended Vote: D (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal adds a new exception to IBC Section 1705.4 (Masonry construction), thereby exempting from special inspection masonry fences (freestanding walls) having a height up to eight feet, masonry retaining walls having a height up to six feet, and combined retaining walls and fences having a height up to fourteen feet. This is being opposed because the quality assurance provided by special inspection is very important to the resistance of these structures to seismic and other environmental loads. Masonry walls of this type are commonly occurring in residential and commercial areas, and have been seen in past earthquakes to exhibit poor performance that can cause life-safety hazards. This change proposal, if passed, will lower the resistance of these walls to seismic and other environmental hazards and increase the risk of serious injury to anyone near these fences in an earthquake or high wind event.

S100-19

Recommended Vote: AS (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal introduces IBC Chapter 17 special inspection requirements for mass timber construction, coordinating with other change proposals addressing this new type of construction. The provisions were developed by the ICC Ad-hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings, and are believed to be consistent with inspection requirements for other construction of a similar nature.

EB41-19

Recommended Vote: D (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal adds to IEBC Section 401 (the General section of Chapter 4, Repairs) new provisions requiring that partial or full reconstruction meet the requirements of the IBC, rather than permitting in-kind replacement. This would be applicable across all building code provisions, whereas the triggers currently in the IEBC focus on structural requirements. While sympathetic to the issue that initiated this change proposal, the current wording creates confusion and implementation issues by attempting to use alteration levels as a way to describe repair triggers. The as submitted language also creates conflict with the existing substantial structural damage triggers. It would be appropriate to provide further study on this topic and bring a proposal back in a future code update cycle.

RB30-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC1 (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal creates a pointer from the IRC to the IBC for structural provisions applicable to shipping containers repurposed as buildings or structures. This type of repurposing is becoming fairly common in both residential and commercial construction. The IBC provisions were developed by the ICC Building Code Action Committee (BCAC) in response to an identified need and were approved for inclusion in Chapter 31 of the 2021 IBC as part of Group A updates for this update cycle. The proposed new language is an effective and efficient way to make these new provisions available to the user of the IRC. Public Comment 1 has further improved the clarity of the language.

RB163-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC2 (uphold PCH action)

Recognizing that IEBC Section 101.2 now permits use of the IRC for repairs, alterations, additions, relocation, and change of occupancy for one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses, this change proposal adds further clarity to the applicable IRC provisions, without substantially changing their scope or intent. Additionally, a pointer back to the IEBC is provided, addressing change to a non-residential use or occupancy. This is an important step towards improving IRC provisions for existing buildings.

Flood

RB141-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC1

This public comment, submitted by industry partners in coordination with FEMA, clarifies and relocates elevation requirements for garages and carports located in flood hazard areas. The original proposal was submitted by FEMA and approved by the committee. (Code Change Proponent: FEMA, Public Comment #1 Proponent: National Association of Home Builders)

Wind

G12-19 Parts 1 & 2

Recommended Vote: AS

Original code change proposal approved (AS) at CAH for IBC (Part 1) and IRC (Part 2) to redefine the wind-borne debris region where design windspeeds are greater than or equal to 130 mph but less than 140 mph. The proposal replaces ‘within 1 mile of coastal mean high-water line’ (unmapped and undefined) with ‘within 1 mile of mean high-water line where Exposure Category D conditions exist upwind at the waterline’ since wind speed increases could occur at large inland waterways in hurricane-prone regions as well as along the coastline.

(Code Change Proponent: National Council of Structural Engineers Association, Public Comment #1 requesting D, Proponent: National Association of Home Builders)

RB274

Recommended vote: AMPC1

Public Comment 1 corrects two errors on the CAH-approved code change to clarify underlayment provisions for asphalt roofs in high wind regions. AMPC1 was supported by the original code change proponent and received near-unanimous support at PCH, but still needs 2/3 majority from OGCV for approval.

(Code Change Proponent: Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association, Public Comment #1 Proponent: Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety)

Seismic

S107-19

Recommended Vote: AM (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal adds new IBC Table 1705.12.7, providing a detailed description of special inspection requirements for storage racks. This will help to ensure that installed racks have components and anchorage that comply with the approved construction documents, thereby leading to improved earthquake performance.

S119-19

Recommended Vote: D (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal replaces IBC Table 1808.1, providing minimum concrete strengths, with a reference to similar requirements in ACI 318 Table 19.2.2.1. This would leave prescriptive concrete elements (foundation, etc.) with no guidance on minimum strength. Public comments intended to address this issue were not approved at the PCH. This change, if needed, should be brought back in a future code update cycle.

S120-19

Recommended Vote: D (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal replaces IBC Section 1808.8.2 and Table 1808.8.2 provisions for concrete cover for all foundations with a reference to ACI 318 Section 28.5.1.3.4 for deep foundations. This would leave shallow and prescriptive foundations with no guidance on minimum cover. Public comments intended to address this issue were not approved at the PCH. This change, if needed, should be brought back in a future code update cycle.

S123-19

Recommended Vote: D (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal seeks to eliminate conflicting provisions in ACI 318, ASCE 7 and IBC 2018 regarding deep foundations for earthquake resistant structures. Although the intent of the change proposal is supported, both the originally submitted language and the language brought forward in public comment have significant flaws that keep it from being usable; this includes the erroneous requirement that Site Class be determined in accordance with ACI 318 rather than ASCE 7. For this reason it is best that this change proposal be disapproved and appropriate changes be made in the next code update cycle.

S132-19

Recommended Vote: AM (uphold PCH action)

This IBC change proposal requires structural steel H-piles in Seismic Design Categories D to F to also conform to AISC 341, and adds requirements that pile cap connections to steel H-piles or steel pipe piles develop the pile tensile capacity. This is intended to correct an oversight and coordinate with ASCE 7-16. The CAH modifications provided editorial clarification. This change will help ensure appropriate seismic design and detailing of steel piles.

S133-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC1 (uphold PCH action)

IBC Section 1810.3.6 addresses splice provisions for deep foundation elements. Where deep foundation elements of the same material and type are being spliced, the splice is required to develop 100 percent of the compressive strength and 50 percent of the bending strength. Where deep foundation element of different materials or types are being spliced, the splice is required to develop 100 percent of the compressive strength, 50 percent of the tensile strength and 50 percent of the bending strength. This change proposal creates an exception applicable in Seismic Design Categories A and B, that allows reduction of the 50 percent tension and 50 percent bending requirements where justified by supporting data. This is a reasonable modification of the seismic design provisions.

S146-19

Recommended Vote: D (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal deletes without replacement IBC Section 1901.5 (Construction documents) and its list of 11 concrete specific information items required to be in the construction documents. This was done intending that the designer would instead know to include in the construction documents more than 70 items identified in ACI 318 Chapter 26. Without a pointer, it is feared that this intent would not be understood by designers. Further it is not clear that 70 plus items are necessary.

S162-19

Recommended Vote: D (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal expands IBC Section 2209 (Steel Storage Racks) to address a broader scope of material handling structures, including steel shelving. Material Handling Institute (MHI) standards are proposed for adoption by reference to address the expanded scope. This is being opposed because the referenced shelving standards incorporate seismic design provisions that are neither current nor coordinated with the seismic design requirements of the IBC. Considerable collaborative work with the proponent led to the development of Public Comment PC1 that would have addressed seismic related concerns. Because the public comment was not approved at the PCH, it is necessary to disapprove this item and bring a proposal back in a future code update cycle.

S174-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC2 (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal modifies the IBC minimum fastening table (Table 2304.10.1) to better align with the matching IRC table. In addition, the proposal restricts use of the table to carbon steel fasteners; the public comment clarifies that fasteners of other materials are to be design in accordance with accepted engineer practice. This change responds to decreases in the withdrawal capacity of stainless steel fasteners, as reflected in the 2018 National Design Specification for Wood Construction. It is important that the effect of the reduced capacity be recognized.

S200-19

Recommended Vote: D (uphold PCH action)

This IBC change proposal attempts to address criteria for design of temporary special event structures, as might be used for limited periods of time for sporting events, concerts, and similar uses. While there is support for developing structural criteria for these temporary structures, the standards being proposed for adoption by reference were found to not have mandatory requirements for seismic loading, and to potentially have inadequate loading requirements for other environmental loads. Additional concerns came to light regarding the permitted duration for use, and extension of the duration with reinspection. It would be appropriate to provide further study on this topic and bring a proposal back in a future code update cycle.

EB145-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC1, 2 (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal, as modified by the public comments, broadly requires structural observation for work designed in accordance with IEBC Appendix Chapter A2, clarifies the intent that special inspection and testing be provided in accordance with the IBC, and prohibits use of several IBC exemptions from special inspection. These changes will strengthen quality control, thereby improving anticipated seismic performance.

EB149-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC1 (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal relocates an existing IEBC Appendix Chapter A2 spacing requirement for crosstie members added as part of the wall anchorage system. This modification will help ensure proper implementation of these requirements.

EB161-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC1 (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal clarifies the locations where evaluation and possible strengthening of floor diaphragms is required by IEBC Appendix Chapter A4. This clarification is consistent with the limited objective of the Appendix Chapter A4 provisions.

EB163-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC1 (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal, as modified by the public comment, incorporates into IEBC Appendix Chapter A4 limited amendments to AISC 341 for design of steel special moment frame retrofit elements, and introduces a new inverted moment frame retrofit element. These revisions provide more flexibility in the design of retrofits for these soft and weak story and open-front structures.

EB164-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC1 (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal revises IEBC Appendix Chapter A4 administrative provisions to better coordinate with similar provisions in the IEBC and to eliminate confusing and unnecessary language related to investigations.

RB2-19

Recommended Vote: D (uphold PCH action)

Under current IRC Section R105.2 provisions, fences having a height of seven feet or less are exempted from permit. This change proposal removes the height limit, thereby making fences of all heights exempt from permit. While this is not of great concern for light wood fences, this provision is also used to exempt from permit heavy walls of masonry and similar materials. These heavy walls are very common in residential developments, and have a long history of non-code-confirming construction and resulting poor performance in moderate to major earthquakes. This poor performance can create safety hazards for dwelling occupants and pedestrians. A public comment that would have separated requirements for light wood fences and heavy walls was voted down at the PCH. It would be appropriate to provide further study on this topic and bring a proposal back in a future code update cycle.

RB40-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC1 (uphold PCH action)

This IRC change proposal requires engineered (rather than IRC prescriptive) seismic design for light-frame dwellings that are located on steep hillsides and have significant variations in cripple wall height. Dramatic damage to dwellings with this hillside configuration was seen in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. The recently published FEMA P-1100 identifies the geometry that is susceptible to damage and therefore requires attention to seismic design over and above what is provided in the IRC. Public Comment One further clarifies the scope of engineering that needs to be provided and was developed with input from the National Association of Home Builders. This change proposal will result in improved seismic performance of these hillside dwellings.

RB152-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC3 and AMPC5 (uphold PCH action)

Provisions addressing habitable attics, introduced in Section R325 of the 2018 IRC, have created the opportunity to build an extra story of unlimited maximum area, without having to recognize it as a story for purposes of design. A three-story dwelling can have a habitable attic (effectively a fourth story) extending for the full area of the lower stories, while the design requirements for three stories are followed with no adjustment for the extra area, weight, and environmental loads. Among other concerns, the 2018 IRC provisions could result in significant reduction in seismic performance. This change proposal, as amended by the public comments, significantly reduces seismic safety concerns by limiting the portion of the dwelling footprint over which the habitable attic can extend; this limits the weight and height added to the dwelling, thereby limiting the increase in seismic loading.

RB193-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC2 (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal modifies the minimum fastening table (IRC Table R602.3(1)) to better align with the matching IBC table. In addition, the proposal restricts use of the table to carbon steel fasteners; the public comment clarifies that fasteners of other materials are to be design in accordance with accepted engineer practice. This change responds to decreases in the withdrawal capacity of stainless steel fasteners, as reflected in the 2018 National Design Specification for Wood Construction. It is important that the effect of the reduced capacity be recognized.

RB203-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC1 (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal, as modified by the public comment, corrects IRC Table R602.3(3), Bracing Requirements Based on Seismic Design Category, by adding three bracing systems that were inadvertently omitted in the 2018 IRC. A footnote reflects that these three systems are limited to single-story dwellings or the bottom story of two -story dwellings.

RB241-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC1 (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal provides more detailed information for installation of lath for exterior plaster (stucco), including permitting the lath to be fastened to furring installed over the wall framing. The public comment requires that exterior plaster counted as wind or seismic bracing in accordance with Chapter 6 be install directly on the studs in order to maintain the intended bracing capacity.

RB277-19

Recommended Vote: AMPC1 (uphold PCH action)

This change proposal, as modified by public comment one, will prohibit the use of spaced (skip) sheathing under clay and concrete tile roofs in Seismic Design Category D. Spaced sheathing has very little strength or stiffness to resist seismic loading. The combination of heavy tile roofing and spaced sheathing has been seen in past moderate to major earthquakes to result in significant damage. This change will contribute to improved performance in future earthquakes.

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