ICC Codes Development Process
ICC codes are updated and published every three years using the governmental consensus approach. The ICC process provides open public forums, transparency, diverse stakeholder participation, due process, appeals and consensus decision-making. Although a broad array of experts participate in the process, government representatives (i.e., code officials) make the final determinations on code provisions. NMHC/NAA participate in every step of the process.
To improve the efficiency of the process, ICC has revamped its timeline for updating the I-Codes. The codes have been divided into three groups—Groups A, B and C—and given staggered hearing schedules. Although each group has a separate time table for the revision process, all new code editions are published at the same time. ICC is currently working on the 2015 editions of its codes. (More information on the 2015 code development process is available at NMHC/NAA’s Building Codes & Standards Development Schedule Fact Sheet.)
The code change process is detailed below.
- Code Change Submittal. Any interested person or organization may submit a proposed code change. The deadline for submitting code change proposals occurs two to three years before a new code edition is published. The deadlines are posted by the ICC and published in the Federal Register. NMHC/NAA often develop and submit code change proposals to address the needs of the apartment sector.
- Code Change Review. Approximately two months after the code change proposal deadline, ICC publishes all submitted proposals for review. During this period, NMHC/NAA analyze the proposals and identify those having repercussions for multifamily properties.
- Code Development Hearing. Approximately four months after code change proposals are submitted, ICC holds public code development hearings, where interested parties testify before the Code Development Committee (CDC) in support of or in opposition to a change proposal. NMHC/NAA routinely testify at these public hearings to ensure that the code committees understand the issues important to the apartment industry. After testimony is complete, the committee recommends accepting or denying a code change proposal.
- Report and Public Comment. ICC publishes the hearing results shortly after completion. The public is then invited to submit comments on the CDC decisions, which can include objections to the hearing results. NMHC/NAA review the hearing results and comment as needed.
- Final Action Hearing and Publication. Roughly 10 months after code change proposals are submitted, ICC holds another round of public hearings, allowing interested parties to offer testimony on the public comments and CDC recommendations. After testimony designated ICC voting members (largely code officials) vote for or against code change proposals. ICC incorporates all approved final action items into the next edition of the I-Code.
- State and Local Adoption. The revised codes are not in effect until adopted by a state or local jurisdiction. Advocacy on behalf of the apartment sector at the state and local level can help policymakers understand the code changes and make recommendations for amendment or non-adoption of model code provisions.
While NMHC/NAA direct code development resources toward those with the greatest impact on apartment properties, we monitor and participate in the development of other I-Codes on an ad hoc basis.
ICC Standards Development Process
The ICC standards--the ICC 700 and the ICC/ANSI A117.1--are developed under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus process and are updated on a five-year cycle . This process significantly differs from the ICC code development system.
The ANSI process provides for public participation, balanced committee membership, transparency and consensus decision-making. Although the ANSI process does not involve formal hearings, interested parties can submit proposed changes to the standards. Changes can also be developed by the committee during the deliberation process. Anyone is invited to submit comments on change proposals and participate in the committee deliberations. However, the ANSI process does not include formal hearings comparable to the ICC system, and final determinations are made by all committee members. The process provides ample opportunities for input from the apartment sector and other interested parties.