What is Code Development?
Code development is the process of updating energy codes to match advances in building science and construction practices. In the United States, this process happens on a three-year cycle. As soon as an energy code is published, development begins for the next code cycle. Development processes vary from code to code, including when hearings are held, who can participate, and how often.
Who can Submit a Code Change Proposal?
Any interested person or group may submit a code change proposal to be considered during the ICC or ASHRAE code development process. Each process offers industry representatives, environmental advocacy groups, and the building and design communities the chance to submit their ideas for improving the existing code.
It is critical that building energy code provisions are consistent and that conflicts between codes are minimal. The ICC’s and ASHRAE’s iterative code development process minimizes potential conflicts by giving stakeholders an opportunity to evaluate new technologies, explore construction challenges, and engage in an open discussion—both during code hearings and the intervening months.
The IECC Development Process
Following the IECC proposal submission and processing, each proposal is publicly reviewed and discussed during public hearings. The overall code development process follows a public hearing format outlined in Robert’s Rules of Order. After the public hearing, a summary report is made available, at which point participants submit their comments identifying issues that were addressed in the code change proposal or committee action. Next, the ICC and public stakeholders convene one last time for the Final Action Hearings to review the actions made during the first hearing and the subsequent public comments before taking the final vote. It is important to note that the ICC leaves the final determination of code provisions in the hands of public safety officials who, with no vested financial interest, can legitimately represent the public interest. All codes are updated every 18 months using this process, and new editions are published every three years.
The ASHRAE Standard 90.1 Development Process
ASHRAE’s revision process for Standard 90.1 is different from the ICC’s method. Like the IECC revision, the process is an open forum, but it’s among working committees made up of a diverse set of relevant stakeholders. The committee then opens revision proposals for public comment. Once the committee reaches a majority consensus, it submits the proposals to the ASHRAE Board for approval. ASHRAE revises Standard 90.1 on a three-year cycle, but accepts proposals at any time.