More than 1,300 proposed changes to the International Building Code (ICC) were considered at April’s hearings
in Memphis. The proposals involved the International Existing
Building Code, International Mechanical Code, and International
Public testimony for the 2018 codes took place during two
simultaneous hearing tracks, with one group hearing code
changes related to plumbing, mechanical and fuel gas. The other
heard existing buildings, fire safety and means of egress. Each
proposed change was discussed, debated and voted upon by
the appropriate committee.
BOMA International’s codes advocacy team attended all of
the sessions and testified where appropriate. BOMA had identified nearly 100 proposals that would have a significant impact
on the industry. These issues ranged from proposals to reduce
the risk of legionella bacteria in cooling towers, to those limiting the area and height of buildings in high-risk areas. While the
team was successful in preventing approval of many of the more
arduous code change proposals, all the changes are still subject
to receiving public comments that could overturn the committee’s action and would require additional action this fall, both
at the upcoming public comment hearings and via the online
Accessibility Requirements for Existing Buildings
One of the key discussions this cycle – and the biggest victory
for BOMA and the commercial real estate industry – revolved
around the committee approval of a proposal submitted by
BOMA International, the American Institute of Architects, the
National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Association of Home Builders. This proposal established the 2009 edition of the A117.1 Accessible and Useable Buildings and Structures
standard as the threshold for existing buildings.
BOMA and its partners addressed a growing concern over the
significant changes being considered for the 2015 edition of the
accessibility standard. These changes include substantial additions to the overall dimensions required for wheeled mobility
devices. The increased dimensions would require more space
to be allocated to corridors, bathroom stalls, vestibules and
other areas along the accessible route where users turn around
objects or corners.
While designers could incorporate the changes into the layout
of new buildings, the impact of the changes would be onerous
for existing buildings, particularly those with future renovation
plans. The four organizations were able to convince the commit-
tee to approve this code change, but BOMA International and
its industry partners will continue to defend the proposal at the
public comment hearings in September.
Another success came from BOMA International’s opposition to a proposal in the International Plumbing Code to set the
hot water minimum temperature throughout buildings to 140
degrees F. to limit growth of the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. Other successful and more cost-effective methods of minimizing the growth of the legionella bacteria exist,
thus BOMA International joined with industry partners to defeat
BOMA International’s codes team was also successful in
keeping the following proposals from gaining approval.
■ Eliminating the prescriptive compliance method (chapter 4)
of the existing building code.
■ Requiring anti-scalding protection to be installed on all existing plumbing fixtures, when replacing, repairing or altering
any portion of an existing plumbing system.
■ Requiring the installation of an accessible means of egress
from the work area to level of exit discharge when work meets
or exceeds the definition of a level III alteration.
Means of Egress
■ Requiring a new standard for measuring the slip resistance of
surfaces that are located in the means of egress.
■ Limiting the length of egress travel and increasing the fire
resistance rating of corridors for buildings located in seismic,
high-wind or hurricane-prone regions.
■ Creating a minimum number of automatic doors at public
entrances based on the occupant load of the building or
■ Prohibiting penetrations of the fire resistance wall protecting
■ Limiting the size of atriums and the number of connected
■ Identifying the type of fire-stopping material used at every
through penetration of a building with a label at each location providing the design and product information.
■ Labeling the full length of fire and smoke partitions (in accessible concealed spaces) with continuous stenciling or mark-
BOMA Addresses Potential Impacts of
Issues include accessibility, occupancy and Legionnaires' disease
BY KEVIN FRY AND STEVE ORLOWSKI