We have two model code organizations in the United States. The International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) has an agreement with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to support the development of the NFPA 54 National Fuel Gas Code and the NFPA 5000. IAPMO publishes the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) and the Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC).
The International Code Council (ICC) publishes the International Plumbing Code (IPC), the International Mechanical Code (IMC), the International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC), the International Private Sewage Disposal Code and an entire family of building codes. ICC has a Plumbing, Mechanical, and Fuel Gas Code Action Committee (PMGCAC) that reviews the current edition of the plumbing, mechanical and fuel gas codes and proposes changes to the codes.
In addition to the model codes that are developed and updated every three years, many states exercise home rule and write and maintain their own state codes. Local or state codes are often written and adopted in large cities or states or in jurisdictions with a strong political influence. In some cases, the local code allows more control where jurisdictions or political influences want to restrict new materials and labor-saving practices.
Many of these jurisdictions find there is a high price to pay for the process of maintaining and updating a building code. The act of taking and collating code change proposals, publishing the proposed code changes for all to see, and holding code change hearings can become a time- and labor-intensive process for many state and local governments. Maintaining an entire set of building codes can be very costly.
A jurisdiction has a choice of many different codes adopted within it. Model code organizations have developed a variety of different model codes available for adoption: building code, energy code, existing building code, fire code, fuel gas code, electrical code, green construction code, mechanical code, performance code, plumbing code, private sewage disposal code, property maintenance code, residential code, swimming pool and spa code, wildland-urban interface code, zoning code, and solar/hydronics/geothermal code.
Many model codes are available from more than one code development agency for a jurisdiction to consider, adopt and enforce. Financial constraints and budget cuts have caused many jurisdictions to consider simply adopting one of the model codes in lieu of trying to write, maintain and update their own codes on a regular basis. Local jurisdictions can choose to adopt a model code and make local amendments to address any restrictions they may have on materials or installation practices in their local jurisdictions.
IAPMO Code Development Schedule
IAPMO recently announced a tentative code development timeline for the 2027 UPC/UMC model codes.
April 4-5, 2023: First technical committee meeting via teleconference
July 3, 2023: Call for proposals
Jan. 2, 2024: Deadline for proposal submissions
April 1, 2024: Distribute Report on Proposals to committee
May 6-8, 2024: UPC technical committee meetings
May 9-10, 2024: UMC technical committee meetings
May 31, 2024: Initial ballots to technical committee
June 14, 2024: Circulation of comments on ballots
June 28, 2024: Final closing date for ballots
July 8, 2024: Technical correlating committee meeting
Aug. 9, 2024: Distribution of Report on Proposals
Sept. 6, 2024: Call for comments on proposals
Sept. 24, 2024: IAPMO Assembly consideration session
Jan. 3, 2025: Deadline for submission of assembly action comments
March 31, 2025: Distribute Report on Comments (ROC) to committee
May 5-8, 2025: Technical committee meetings
May 19, 2025: Initial ballots to technical committees
June 2, 2025: Circulation of comments on ballots
June 16, 2025: Final closing date for technical committee ballots
July 9, 2025: Technical Correlating Committee Meeting
Aug. 1, 2025: Distribution of ROC
Sept. 16, 2025: IAPMO Assn. Technical Meeting Convention
October 2025: Initial ballots to Tech Committee on Membership Amendments
October 2025: Circulation of comments on ballots to technical committees
October 2025: Final closing date for ballots from technical committees
TBD: Deadline to submit appeals
November 2025: Standards Council Meeting
TBD: Deadline to file written petition to board of directors
January 2026: Board meets to address petitions
ICC Code Development Schedule
ICC recently announced the meeting dates for the PMGCAC meetings to review and propose code changes and improvements to the international plumbing, mechanical and fuel gas codes. I have participated in this committee over the years as an interested party/contributing member. The first several meetings go over what may be perceived as code sections that get a lot of questions directed toward staff; maybe some clarification is needed.
Members also go over the code and proposed code changes to make the code easier to understand. In some instances, they may address technical issues not covered in the current code language. When the committee is done proposing and refining the code change proposals, they submit the code changes from the committee (typically with the chairman’s name as the proponent) and the changes go into the code change proposal process with all the other proposals.
The dates and times are set for the PMGCAC work effort. These meetings will be virtual, using MS Teams.
April 11, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
April 25, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
May 9, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
June 6, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
June 20, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
July 11, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
July 25; 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
Aug. 8, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
Aug. 22, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
Sept. 5, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
Sept. 19, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
Oct. 3, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
Oct. 17, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
Oct. 31, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
Nov. 14, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
Nov. 28, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
Dec. 12, 2023: PMGCAC Meeting online
Jan. 2, 2024: PMGCAC Meeting online
The PMGCAC meeting times will be 12 noon to 2 p.m. Eastern. If you would like to participate in these online meetings, contact Fred Grable, PE, ICC senior staff engineer at 888-ICC-SAFE (422-7233), extension 4359, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the 1990s, I met John E. Matthews from the ASPE Eastern Michigan Chapter at an ASPE convention; we met again at the Building Officials and Code Administrators plumbing code hearings before they rolled into the ICC codes.
Soon after, I met John Nussbaum, who at the time was the executive director of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of Southeast Michigan. He traveled across the country and noted that at every meeting, he heard each organization talk about the same issues. He decided to form an industry coalition called the Eastern Michigan Plumbing Industry Coalition (EMPIC) so the plumbing industry could work on common issues together.
Nussbaum served as EMPIC’s first president, and he asked me to serve as vice president. He originally organized a couple of code update meetings every year; later, we cut back to one big annual meeting to talk about common issues and code updates. Nussbaum also organized a local code committee called the Code Study and Development Committee of Southeast Michigan to review proposed code changes and comment on the proposed changes at the code hearings.
We asked Matthews to be the spokesperson for the group at the code hearings. He eloquently wrote up comments in support of, or in opposition to, code changes that were proposed to make our position easy for all to understand. He kept his testimony short and to the point.
There was a time when anyone could spend as long as they wanted giving testimony at the code hearings. Then, a plastic piping consultant abused the rules, spending hours and hours reading technical reports in what seemed like a filibuster. Code officials tried to interrupt him and get him to wrap up, but he said he was only trying to give the code committee all the information he could so that they could make an informed decision.
Shortly after, the rules for testifying at the code hearings changed and testimony was limited to three minutes per speaker. Later, the testimony was limited to two minutes per speaker. This made it very difficult to explain a problem with a code change. Therefore, it was critical that the written portion of the code change reason statement was clear and concise.
Nussbaum’s Code Study and Development Committee of Southeast Michigan started reviewing the model codes to propose new code change language. Many of the plumbing code changes adopted over the last 30 years have come from this committee because of Nussbaum’s efforts. Thanks go out to him; he recently wrote a history book for the Southeast Michigan plumbing industry.
Changes to the ICC Code Development Process
The board approved a standing motion from the Board Committee on the Long-Term Code Development Process to revise the code development cycle to incorporate two committee action hearings for each code group. This change expands the current process from two independent one-year cycles to a single continuous three-year cycle. This change will take effect beginning in 2024 for the development of the 2027 international codes (see chart)..
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) held its winter meetings in conjunction with the AHR Expo in Atlanta Feb. 4-8. I attended the winter meetings and participated in many technical committee meetings and educational seminars in addition to attending the product expo.
Like California, the ASHRAE board has decided to push for the elimination of all carbon-based fuels within the next decade or so. As in the past, I personally don’t think it is a smart move to put all your eggs in one basket. I think reducing carbon emissions while turning to newer or carbon-free technologies is a better path that does not lead to a total collapse during a power grid outage.
Hybrid systems are a safer and smarter choice by allowing fossil-fuel technology for peak shaving and emergency power generation when the electric grid goes down.
I attended the following plumbing-related ASHRAE technical committee meetings:
ANSI/ASHRAE/ICC/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings
ASHRAE 90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings, Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings
ASHRAE Technical Committee 6.6, Service Water Heating
ASHRAE Technical Committee 3.6, Water Treatment
ASHRAE 188/Guideline 12, Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems
ASHRAE 514. The committee consists mainly of members of ASHRAE 188, with a few exceptions. There was no official meeting at the conference because final actions on the standard have been submitted for board approval; the standard should be published soon.
ASHRAE committee rules do not allow the reporting of the discussions during the standard committee meetings or technical committee meetings. However, the publication of the standards for public review offers a chance for the public to see the results of the committees’ work review and comment on the process if necessary.
Finally, the slate of nominees for the 2023-24 officers and directors were announced.
President: Ginger Scoggins, PE, Fellow ASHRAE
President-Elect: Dennis Knight, PE, BEMP, Fellow Life Member ASHRAE
Treasurer: Bill McQuade, PE, LEED AP, Fellow ASHRAE
Billy Austin, PE, BCxP, BEAP, BEMP, CHD, HBDP, HFDP, OPMP, Fellow ASHRAE
Wade Conlan, BCxP
Chandra Sekhar, Ph.D., Fellow ASHRAE
Directors and Regional Chairs:
Region VII: Scott Peach, PE, FPE
Region VIII: Joe Sanders
Region IX: Jonathan Smith, PE, CEM, LEED AP
Region X: Buzz Wright, PE, FPE
Region XIV: Mahroo Eftekhari
Doug Cochrane, P.Eng., LEED AP
Corey Metzger, PE
Heather Schopplein, PE
(Alternate) Patrick Marks, PE, Fellow ASHRAE