Dec. 15, 2010 - BCC Reverses September Action on Energy Code
At it's meeting on December 15 in Raleigh, the North Carolina Building Code Council reversed it's action from September on delaying the adoption of the new Energy Code. After three intense months of lobbying from advocates, including the AIA, for a higher energy saving standard, the Council decided to strike a compromise from its previous position.
The motion that was adopted allows the new Energy Code, which calls for a 30% reduction in energy use, to be applied for commercial buildings, while mandating only a 15% reduction in energy use for residential construction. The residential reduction will only go into effect if the Code Council agrees to a list of cost saving offsets that were requested from the North Carolina Home Builders Association. These demands include a list of 23 items from various parts of the Residential Code having nothing to do with energy efficiency. The HBA's arguments that they could not accept any additional cost to the construction of a new home due to the increased energy efficiency requirements gave rise to their demands for offsetting costs elsewhere in the code.
Governor Perdue outlined the possible compromise to the Chairman and members of the Building Code Council in a letter she sent yesterday. In it the Governor stated, "Clearly, there is a desire and willingness on the part of everyone with whom I have spoken, to move North Carolina to a higher standard of energy efficiency in our building codes. However, there is also great concern about the financial impact of adopting better energy efficiency standards that will raise the cost of constructing a new home at a time when the housing sector continues to struggle with the worst market in decades.
"We must find a way to both improve energy efficiency standards in our building code and prevent further economic stress to the housing industry. In light of these realities, I request the Council give full consideration and approval to the following:
A mandatory 15% improvement in energy efficiency for the residential building code.
Adoption of a voluntary 30% improvement in energy efficiency for the residential building code.
A mandatory 30 improvement in energy efficiency for the commercial building code; and
Amendments to the residential building code adopted with 15% energy efficiency standards that will provide equal offset to the cost of new home construction as the additional cost of the higher energy standards. These offsets must be in areas that will not endanger consumer health and safety."
And so the Council almost verbatim adopted the Governor's request. We must note that the Commercial Code side of the adoption had no such offset requirement strings attached to it. In addition to the 15% Residential reduction, the Code Council also approved the publication of an appendix to the Residential Code that would print a voluntary Residential Energy Code that reaches the original proposed 30% reduction target.
In statements to the Council and the public following the vote, Council Chairman Dan Tingen announced that it was his intention to bring a proposal back to the Code Council at a later date that would create some type of private certification program that builders could use to verify their use of the voluntary 30% Residential Code. Since building officials will be under no obligation to inspect homes to the 30% standard, Tingen believes there should be some mechanism in place that builders and consumers can feel confident in that the higher residential energy standard was being met if the home is marketed as such.
The Council moved to give a a phase-in effective date for both the Commercial and Residential Energy Codes of January 1, 2012 with a mandatory use date of March 1, 2012.
The Residential Code offsets part of the compromise still must go through the BCC's adoption process so it will likely be another 4 months before the Council will hear any of the offset items. The items include the following:
- Remove definition for STORY, ATTIC
- Change WIND BORNE DEBRIS REGION definition
- Remove references to noncombustible, fire-retardant-treated materials and references to vinyl and aluminum soffit materials being installed over 3/4 inch (19mm) wood sheathing of 5.8 inch (16mm) gypsum board
- Allow for battery operated smoke alarms
- Remove design requirements for retaining walls other than those that support buildings and their accessory structures
- Reduce footing widths from 24" to 15" or 18" (depending on number of stories) & remove rebar requirements
- Change language to require that a minimum of one exterior egress door be readily openable from egress side without key or special knowledge or effort
- Change language to require CO alarms if dwelling has fuel-fired appliances installed or has attached garage
- Reduce footing width to previous code requirements ((CABO Code)
- Change Not 1 to require that footings extend 12" below the finished grade.
- Change allows reduction in foundation ventilation if vapor retarder is applied
- Allow elimination of felt or other approved weather-resistant material behind siding materials as allowed by TABLE R703.4
- Allow elimination of felt or other approved weather-resistant material behind certain siding materials if conditions are met.
- Cooresponding Section to R703.2
- Change eliminates the use of Engineered Lumber or double ridge boards for homes built using hip and valley rafters
- Increase square footage of attic areas that require access from 100 sq. ft. to 400 sq. ft.
- Rail posts - Remove bolting requirement
- Riser openings - Remove solid riser/opening restriction requirement
- Remove requirement that contractors provide ladders for inspections
- Remove requirement that Type SE service-entrance cable be required to comply with 60 degree C ampacity limitation in section 334.80
- Remove reference to adoption of Appendices by local ordinance
- Remove requirement for water heater stands for electric water heaters installed in garages
- Remove requirement for sprinklers in R-2 occupancies where buildings are two stories or less in height of 16 or less dwelling units
Thermador Brand Built-in Ovens Recalled
The U.S. Concumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced the recall of approximately 42,000 Themador brand built-in ovens manufactured by BSH Home Appliances Corp., of Huntington Beach, CA. The ovens can have gaps in their insulation where overheating can occur, posing a fire hazard. The recall involves Thermador single oven model numbers C271B, C301B, SEC271B, and SEC301B, and combination conventional oven / microwave model numbers SEM272B, SEM302B, SEMW272B, and SEMW302B with date codes between FD8403 and FD8701. The model number and date code are printed on the underside of the units' control panels. The ovens were sold by appliance and specialty stores through May 2007 for between $2,400 and $3,900. The CPSC is recommending that consumers stop using the ovens' self-clenign function anf contact BSH Home Appliances at 1-800-701-5230 immediately to schedule an inspection and free repair, if necessary. For more information, including pictures of the recalled products, go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml07/07228.html.
North Carolina Building Code (NCBC) update
On June 12, the NC Building Code Council (BCC) approved a change to NCBC section 1012.3 as follows:
Item D-1: NC Building Code (NCBC) section 1012.3
Amends section 1012.3 on opening limitations, stipulating that where open guards are required, they shall include a bottom rail or curb rejecting the passage of a 2" diameter sphere.
The BCC's action stipulated thts change was to be effective immediately upon approval by Rule Reiew. As the Rule Review Commission raised no objections, this code change is now in effect.
AIA Bulletin on the Live-Work Code Change
A Public Information Release by the AIA Codes and Standards Committee - Jim Bartl, AIA
AIA’s ICC Live-work code change proposal gained final approval at the ICC Final Action Hearings in Rochester, New York, on May 24, 2007. The code change is now a 2007 amendment to the 2006 IBC, for jurisdictions which adopt those amendments. For other jurisdictions, the Live-work code change will be published as an integral part of the 2009 IBC family of codes. AIA members should contact their local code official regarding the immediate availability of the Live-work code change, either through 2007 amendment adoption, or alternate methods provisions of the code.
What is the Live-work proposal about?
Live-work units propose to allow residents to operate a public service business with employees out of their residence, with the public entering the work area of their unit to acquire the service. Some examples of live-work commercial functions are artist’s studios, coffee shops and chiropractor’s offices. It is important to note that Live-work is not intended to apply to an in home office (architect home office, consultant home office, et al). Live-work units are growing in popularity in design. As throwbacks to 1900 era planning, where one walked to all needed services (the typical corner commercial store scattered across many old cities), live-work units began to re-emerge in the 1990’s through a development style known as Traditional Neighborhood Design (TND). More recently, the adaptive reuse of many older urban structures in city centers have incorporated the same live-work tools to provide a variety of residential unit types.
Historically, the building codes were sheltered from the live-work issue by zoning codes which precluded a mix of uses within a neighborhood, much less within a building or a unit. However, recent planning trends adopted by many jurisdictions, encourage the mix of commercial and residential uses, not just in neighborhoods, but also in buildings, and even within unit types, such as the live-work unit commonly found in TND projects.
The Live-work problem faced by Architects and Code Officials
Simply stated, before this code change, there was no provision for any use other than residential in the International Residential Code. Since live-work units introduce a commercial use, they are driven out of the IRC, into the IBC. When this happens, the live-work units incur an increase in code related construction requirements (use separation, construction type, egress, fire prevention) far in excess of any low risk hazard present in the work function. The added requirements drive the construction cost up, and inevitably drive the units out of the affordable housing range.
Of concern to many Code Officials and Architects alike was the problem posed by the absence of any live-work provision in the IRC or IBC. Too often, this results in one of two poor choices: a) either the owner misrepresents the proposed “work” use, or b) the Code Officials are encouraged to look the other way, ignoring the “work” use. Consequently, conscientious Code Officials and Architects desire a code compliance tool that addresses their live-work predicament, allowing them to solve this problem as an integral part of a project’s code compliance strategy, while still providing affordable residential units.
How does the Live-work code change work?
AIA’s successful Live-work code change includes a series of changes in both the International Building Code and the International Residential Code, providing a new section focusing on the live-work unit type (described at section 419 in the following pages, this will likely be assigned a different number in the final publication).
· Residential 1 & 2 family projects designed as live work will still be allowed to use the International Residential Code, but will be referred to the new Live/Work Units section of the International Building Code for compliance criteria.
· Commercial projects will also gain use of the live work provisions, where they prove beneficial (which is often the case in urban redevelopment areas) and more flexible than the codes chapter 3 mixed use provisions.
· The new Live/Work Units section requires the work are to be operated by the residential tenant, and also contains a number of other features, including:
o No separation required between work and live functions
o Floor openings permitted without enclosure
o In home offices exception included if less than 10% of the total unit area.
o Monitored alarm and sprinkler required
o Accessibility required at public use areas
o Limitations are imposed on unit size, work area size.
o High hazard and storage occupancies not allowed
· refer to the following pages for a full list of requirements
The code change text is contained below.
Live -work Code Change
Final version approved at ICC hearings, May 24, 2007
Part 1: changes to the IBC
1. Add new text to IBC as follows:
419.1 General. A live/work unit is a dwelling unit or sleeping unit in which a significant portion of the space includes a non-residential use which is operated by the tenant and shall comply with Section 419.
Exception: Dwelling units or sleeping units which include an office that is less than 10% of the area of the dwelling unit shall not be classified as a live/work unit.
419.1.1 Limitations: The following shall apply to all live/work areas:
1. The live/work unit is permitted to be a maximum of 3,000 sq ft;
2. The non-residential area is permitted to be a maximum 50% of the area of each live/work unit;
3. The non-residential area function shall be limited to the first or main floor only of the live-work unit; and
4. A maximum of 5 non-residential worker or employees are allowed to occupy the non-residential area at any one time.
419.2 Occupancies. Live/work units shall be classified as an R-2 dwelling. Separation requirements found in Section 508.3 shall not apply when the live/work unit is in compliance with section 419. High hazard and storage occupancies shall not be permitted in a live/work unit. The aggregate of storage in the live/work unit shall be limited to 10% of the space dedicated to non-residential activities.
419.3 Means of egress. Except as modified by this section, the provisions for R-2 occupancies in Chapter 10 shall apply to the entire live/work unit.
419.3.1 Egress Capacity. The egress capacity for each element of the live/work unit shall be based on the occupancy load for the occupancy served per Table 1004.1.1.
419.3.2 Sliding doors. Where doors in a means of egress are of the horizontal-sliding type, the force to slide the door to its fully open position shall not exceed 50 pounds (220 N) with a perpendicular force against the door of 50 pounds (220 N).
419.3.3 Spiral stairs. Spiral stairs that conform to the requirements of Section 1009.8 shall be permitted.
419.3.4 Locks. Egress doors shall be permitted to be locked in accordance Exception 4 of Section 1008.1.8.3.
419.4 Vertical openings. Floor opening between floor levels of a live/work unit is permitted without enclosure.
419.5 Fire protection: The live-work unit shall be provided with a monitored fire alarm system where required by Section 907.2.9, and a fire sprinkler system in accordance with Section 903.2.7.
419.6 Structural: Floor loading for the areas within a live/work unit shall be designed to conform to Table 1607.1 based on the function within the space.
419.7 Accessibility: Accessibility shall be designed in accordance with Chapter 11.
419.8 Ventilation: The applicable requirements of the International Mechanical Code shall apply to each area within the live/work unit for the function within that space.
2. Revise IBC section 310.1 as follows:
R-2 Residential occupancies containing sleeping units or more than two dwelling units where the occupants are primarily permanent in nature, including: (Add the following)
3. Revise IBC section 508 as follows:
508.3.1Accessory occupancies. Accessory occupancies are those occupancies subsidiary to the main occupancy of the building or portion thereof. Aggregate accessory occupancies shall not occupy more than 10 percent of the area of the story in which they are located and shall not exceed the tabular values in Table 503, without height and area increases in accordance with sections 504 and 506 for such accessory occupancies.
Exception: (add the following)
4. Live/work units in accordance with Section 419 are not considered separate occupancies.
Part 2: changes to the IRC
1. Revise IRC section 101 as follows:
R101.2 Scope. The provisions of the International Residential Code for One- and Two-family Dwellings shall apply to the construction, alteration, movement, enlargement, replacement, repair, equipment, use and occupancy, location, removal and demolition of detached one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses not more than three stories above-grade in height with a separate means of egress and their accessory structures.
Exception: Live/work units complying with the requirements of Section 419 of the International Building Code shall be permitted to be built as one- and two-family dwellings or townhouses. Fire suppression required by Section 419. 5 of the International Building Code when constructed under the International Residential Code for One- and Two-family Dwellings shall conform to Section 903.3.1.3 of the International Building Code.