White Paper: The Value and Impact of Building Codes

Nov 1, 2014

This paper looks at the big picture of building codes and presents our perspective (as non-code experts, but with significant combined experience in policy issues related to building science, energy, technology and standards development) on why they are valuable. Because state legislators will be a key audience, we note why it is in the best interest of states to adopt codes developed by a uniquely American, democratic, national/state/local process. We discuss safety in terms of the need to adopt and enforce current safety and health codes, as well as the growing demand for stronger model codes and “reach” codes/standards to improve building and community resiliency in the face of more frequent and intense storms. We also discuss the value of energy codes such as the IECC in terms of their relationship to health and safety codes and role in reducing building operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The environmental benefit is also related to “climate resiliency,” which the U.S. Conference of Mayors and others have identified as a national priority. Because the 2012 IECC has been a specific target for code opponents, we try to address some of their concerns, such as that “energy codes cost too much.” Similarly, we discuss why the three-year cycle of updating model codes is so important. In short, building codes are the most effective, least expensive way to protect public health, safety and welfare. They are more valuable now than ever before.

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