Special report: How to leverage IBC and ICC

The 2012 International Building Code from the International Code Council provides details to help safeguard the public health, safety, and general welfare in the built environment.


Figure 1: 2012 International Building Code is the latest edition in the family of codes published by the ICC. Courtesy: International Code CouncilThe 2012 International Building Code (IBC), developed by the International Code Council (ICC), is a comprehensive, construction safety code that provides minimum requirements to safeguard the public health, safety, and general welfare and includes the latest advances in building science and knowledge gained from past experiences to protect life and property. Compliance with the IBC creates safe, sustainable, and affordable buildings along with a safety system that supports the work of specifiers, engineers, architects, and other designers, both locally and globally.

To ensure a complete safety system, the IBC references standards including those promulgated by the American Concrete Institute, the American National Standards Institute, the American Society of Civil Engineers, ASTM International, the Canadian Standards Association, the National Fire Protection Association, and Underwriters Laboratories.

As part of the I-Code Family, the IBC is coordinated with all of the International Codes. Construction plans, specifications, and other support documents that comprise the “submittal documents” used in the review, approval, and permit process are addressed in 2012 IBC Section 107. The International Codes are published every three years using a transparent, inclusive, balanced governmental consensus process that includes open forums, debates, and collective decision making.

Technical changes in the 2012 I-Codes

Each new edition of the code includes changes that facilitate building construction and update safety provisions. Here is a sample list of significant changes found in the 2012 IBC with code section references in parentheses:

  • Figure 2: The IBC Significant Changes publication provides documentation of the important changes that take place from one edition of the code to the next. Courtesy: International Code CouncilCare Facilities, Definitions, and Classifications (202, 308.2, 308.4)
  • Open Mall Buildings (402)
  • High-Rise Fire Service Access Elevators (403.6.1)
  • Live/Work Units (202, 419)
  • Incidental Uses--Separation and Protection (509)
  • Fire Ratings of Exterior Walls (Table 602, Note h)
  • Marking of Fire-Rated Glazing Assemblies (202, 716.3)
  • Wired Glass in Fire Window Assemblies (716.6.4)
  • Pump and Riser Room Size (901.8)
  • Electromagnetically Locked Egress Doors (1008.1.9.9)
  • Enclosure Penetrations of Interior Exit Stairways (1022.5)
  • Accessible Children’s Facilities (1109.2, 1109.5)
  • Anchored Masonry Veneer (1405.6)
  • Minimum Live Loads (1607.1)
  • Determination of Wind Loads (202, 1609)
  • Statement of Special Inspections (1704.3)
  • Foam Plastic Insulation Installed in Floor Assemblies (2603.4.1.14)
  • Fire Service Access Elevators (3007).

Code development, publication, and adoption

The publication, adoption, and enforcement of modern building codes in the United States dates back more than a century. The movement to develop a single set of comprehensive, coordinated model construction codes for use throughout the United States and globally, moving away from the regional codes used in the United States, began in 1994. On Feb. 1, 2003, the three regional code organizations—Building Officials and Code Administrators International, International Conference of Building Officials, and Southern Building Code Congress International—began operating as one consolidated association: the International Code Council, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2013. Today the I-Codes are used in every state and Washington, D.C., at the state or local level.

Many federal agencies and a growing number of nations around the world use the International Codes to safeguard the public health, safety, and general welfare in the built environment. The unique system of ICC’s model codes and its related support services are based on a comprehensive and systematic approach related to the safety of building occupants, firefighters, and emergency responders. While code development is ICC’s core function, the Code Council offers a full array of support services for code users, including code application and technical opinions, plan review, certification and testing, training and education. Products such as commentary and significant changes, product evaluation and listings, and accreditation services are provided.

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