ICC Hearings Result in Numerous Code Changes

The International Code Council (ICC) hearings were held last week in Rochester, N.Y., and the council approved numerous changes to the building codes. The code changes will be published later this year as the 2007 Supplement to the 2006 International Codes. According to Mike Fischer of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), some changes that related to residential and commercial door and window selection and installation include:

  • Revisions to the egress door sections of the international residential code (IRC) clarifies that non-egress required doors are not required to comply with the dimensional requirements of the egress-required door. Also approved is a clarification that door thresholds at non-egress required doors (i.e. most patio doors) may be up to 7- inches above the floor or landing. This revision allows the threshold of patio doors to be higher than the 1.5-inch limit above the floor or landing imposed on egress-required doors.
  • A change to allow sliding doors in the means of egress in some projects built under the international building code (IBC) if the occupant load is 10 or less was approved.
  • A revision to installation language requires windows to be flashed and installed in accordance with the fenestration manufacturer's instructions, and that installation instructions must be provided by the fenestration manufacturer for each door and window. In high wind areas, the determination of the exposure category (Exposure B,C or D) for homes built under the IRC as part of a subdivision or master-planned community can be based on the site conditions that will exist when all adjacent structures have been built. This may allow the initial homes of a development to be built as Exposure B vs. Exposure C, lowering the design pressure required for the structure and reducing the cost of construction.
  • In hurricane-prone areas, for buildings constructed under the IBC, the use of wood structural panels such as plywood or oriented strand board for door and window protection from wind-borne debris was revised to only R-3 and R-4 occupancies (small adult and child care facilities, small congregate living facilities or residential care/assisted living facilities). Permanent fasteners are required to be installed on the building for the wood structural panels. This may result in higher demand for hurricane shutters and/or impact-resistant doors and windows.

According to Fischer, energy-related changes to the code include:

  • Proposals to raise U-factors requirements (i.e. weaken the energy code) in Northern United States were almost unanimously disapproved. One exception: in the IRC, the energy requirements for northern climates were weakened slightly by removing the area-weighted U-factor maximum limit in Climate Zones 6 through 8.
  • Proposals to require significantly-lower solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) values in the southern climate zones were defeated. However, in the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), maximum fenestration SHGC requirements for climate zones 1 and 2 in the South were reduced from 0.40 to 0.37 (climate zones 1 and 2 include Florida, SE Georgia, coastal Alabama and Mississippi, southern-half of Alabama, southeast one-third of Texas, and southwest Arizona).
  • Commercial skylights, regardless of glazing material, will now be held to the same material-neutral U-factor and SHGC performance requirements.
  • The proposal for allowing AAMA 507 as an alternative to the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) was disapproved. NFRC will remain the only accepted certification program for determining commercial fenestration thermal performance
  • WDMA's proposal to re-introduce material-neutral U-factor requirements in the IECC commercial energy prescriptive table of vertical fenestration energy requirements was disapproved.