As evidenced by ENR’s recent webinar “Making the Most of the Cloud,” more and more construction services are finding their way to the Cloud, including one that provides industry access to construction codes and standards.
While the U.S. made a significant advance more than a decade ago when its three model building code-writing organizations consolidated into a single, model building code-writing body—the International Code Council—little has changed with regard to the diversity of codes and standards as they actually are selected, amended, adopted and enforced by more than 35,000 local jurisdictions—where projects end up being built.
But since the consolidation of the model code-writing groups, only Louisiana has joined the few states mandating uniform building codes statewide, without local amendments. That leaves building owners, designers, contractors, product manufacturers and suppliers in the other 80% of our nation’s code-adopting jurisdictions with a modern “Tower of Babel,” as to which editions of which codes and standards, with what local amendments, must be followed.
Keeping track of which of those diverse codes and standards apply in a given situation is a bane not just for large AEC firms, building product suppliers and national retail chains, but for homebuilders and other building owners as well.
With little to suggest that more states will adopt mandatory mini-max construction codes, Fiatech, an industry consortium based at the University of Texas, recently approved a project, that, over the next 20 months, aims to expand an existing online library of 50,000 model codes and standards, as well as state codes, to include the amendments developed and adopted by local boards in the nation’s 5,000 largest local jurisdictions. The project is called “The U.S. Local Codes in the Cloud Project.”
Fiatech, supported by several of its members including Kaiser Permanente, Target Corporation and CH2MHill, is working on the project with Compu-tecture, an enterprise founded in 1995 that established the first HTML-version building codes and standards subscription library using its proprietary software, MADCAD.
The new project’s goal is to expand MADCAD.com’s eLibrary to include the local amendments to existing model codes and standards. Fiatech members will get free access to data uploaded by local jurisdictions, while jurisdictions that contribute local amendment data to the library will have free hosting of their codes, as well as online access to similar local amendment data contributed by others.
Even without the expansion, MADCAD.com’s searchable and continuously updated cloud-based service already reduces code research expenses for subscribing companies by as much as 30%, claims Pelin Atasoy, CEO of MADCAD.com and Compu.tecture, Inc. She says the 30% reflects the comparison of using hard copy books, versus researching in the online system. She points out that multi-location A&E firms may need 2,000 to 3,000 codes and standards, updated in 3-5 year cycles, depending on the publisher. Just ordering each book, and shipping, storing and managing the updates adds up quickly.
Other time saving advantages:
• Access from any device, anywhere and anytime
• Researching and reporting is faster
• The ease-of-use encourages the looking up of codes, eliminating resistance doing so, specifically for the younger generation
• Supports correct decisions—which is the real value.
“When you think of this effort being repeated in every office, the savings for the entire industry is huge,” adds Atasoy.
Fiatech is setting up work groups to reach out to jurisdictions, AEC firms, owners and standards development organizations to advance the project. Industry feedback is welcome.
Find more about the U.S. Local Codes in the Cloud Project by viewing a 40-minute webinar conducted by Fiatech on May 7 at http://fiatech.org/webinars/archived-webinars/2013-webinars, or by contacting cloud project leader, Pelin Atasoy, at email@example.com, or the author of this article, Bob Wible, at firstname.lastname@example.org