Modular Building Institute

Discussion Forum

A Storm Brewing in Texas?

Original Comment:
No one will argue the need for states to have building codes to provide a minimally acceptable level of safety and protection to the public. But sometimes, the building codes try to legislate away any and all possible risks. The result is often a much higher cost for construction and a chilling impact on new developments and the local economies.

Such is the case in Texas in our opinion. The Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) through the adoption of RULE 19.53 of the Texas Administrative Code has required that the 2015 edition of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) to go into effect November 1, 2016 for commercial construction. Their push for adopting 2015 over the 2012 edition is an attempt to accelerate the evolution of the energy performance of buildings constructed in the state.

Practically speaking, this means that local jurisdictions will push for the adoption of the full suite of the remaining 2015 codes, including the 2015 International Building Code for commercial construction. What you may or may not know, is that the 2015 IBC contains a new requirement in section 423 which could be crushing to school construction budgets. This requirement calls for hardened storm shelters to be incorporated into any Group E occupancy with an occupant load greater than 50. For the modular industry, that may mean additional planning for stand-alone steel or concrete structures on the campus if such structures cannot be incorporated into the modular plans.

This new requirement impacts all new school construction in areas where shelter design wind speeds are 250 MPH. In essence, that area includes large portions of Texas, along with Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and parts of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, South Dakota, and New York.

Cross referencing those states with the current versions of the IBC show that only Oklahoma is now subject to these requirements, with Texas expected to join soon. Nine other states in this region are currently on the 2012 IBC and should anticipate this requirement in their next code update.

At this point, there’s not a lot that can be done about amending the 2015 IBC, as the 2018 code cycle just recently ended and the next opportunity to address this in the model codes is the 2021 cycle.

Given that the education market is projected to be one of the top three markets for our industry for the next several years, we wanted to make you aware of this so that you can prepare accordingly. MBI wants to thank the good folks at Ramtech Building Systems in Mansfield Texas for bringing this matter to our attention.
Started on February 22, 2016 by Tom Hardiman
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Additional Comments:
Well, it seems as if this code provision is starting to wreak havoc on school budgets. Most recently, the State of Michigan repealed this section of the code after some 200 new school projects were put on hold. The State of Ohio did adopt the 2015 IBC with this provision included. Bad news for new school projects in the Buckeye state.

MBI plans to start reaching out to states currently on the 2012 IBC to give them a "heads up" about this section of the code. It's not likely many school districts around the country have been reading up on section 423 of the International Building Code while preparing their budgets!
Updated on December 14, 2017 by Tom Hardiman

Costs considerations seem to be delaying the adoption of this provision in some Texas jurisdictions. Click here to read more.
Updated on December 7, 2016 by Tom Hardiman

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