Building Codes Protect Lives And Keep Us Safe

Building codes are a set of standards that regulate the design, construction, and alteration of new and existing residential and commercial structures. The codes contain minimum requirements for mechanical and electrical systems, plumbing, fire prevention, structural soundness, accessibility, and energy efficiency to protect the health, safety, and welfare of building occupants. Building codes provide you, your family, and your community protection from fire, structural collapse, and deterioration, and can even make structures more resilient to natural disasters.


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Building Codes Keep Up With The Latest Science And Technology
Every three years in the United States, the International Code Council (ICC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) develop, approve and publish a series of model building codes for potential use by state governments.


These model codes are updated through a collaborative process of the nation’s leading experts in energy efficiency, building design and product performance professionals, state and local governmental officials, product manufacturers, architects, and builders, including representatives from Pennsylvania. The finished product is a set of updated codes that reflect latest advances in building products, science, and construction practices.


Once the codes are published, it’s up to the states to adopt the codes and enforce them.


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Building Codes Save You Money
Building codes contain a set of standards called the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) that help reduce energy usage and costs.


The energy code contains a set of minimum requirements for energy-efficient design and construction for new buildings. For example, the 2012 code requires more insulation, a tighter total building enclosure (or envelope), tighter ducts, better windows, and more efficient lighting than the 2009 energy code it replaced. In fact, the 2012 energy code saves 15 percent more energy than the 2009 code, creating big savings on energy costs.


To illustrate the point, a Pennsylvanian buying a new single family home that meets the 2012 IECC would realize between $7,623 and $19,191 in net energy savings over the life of their 30 year mortgage, according to an analysis by the Building Codes Assistance Project and ICF International.


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Building Codes Help The Environment
In Pennsylvania, close to 50 percent of our electricity comes from coal plants. In fact, we rely on over 11,000 megawatts of older, polluting coal plants that are wreaking havoc on our health and environment. These plants produce the same amount of carbon pollution each year as nine million cars.


Coal-powered electricity generation produces more heat-trapping pollution than the transportation and industrial sectors combined and contributes to acid rain, smog, soot, mercury, and fly ash pollution. Additionally, carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from coal power plants is one of the main global contributors to climate change.


Energy codes help reduce the consumption of power from these polluting resources by making buildings more energy efficient. Considering the fact that buildings account for 40 percent of total energy consumption in the U.S. and nearly half of all carbon dioxide emissions, energy codes can have a big impact. By reducing the amount of energy needed to power, heat and cool buildings, energy codes can also delay the need for new power plants and transmission lines.


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Building Codes Create Jobs
Building codes can also help grow the economy. Energy codes create demand for new jobs including technical experts, tradesmen, construction workers duct and building leakage professionals, quality control assessors, building and system commissioning agents, energy auditors, and compliance officers.


By reducing energy costs, building energy codes are also putting money back into the pockets of consumers. Homeowners and renters saving on energy bills can spend more in the local economy, and businesses savings on energy costs are able to invest more in their company and employees.