This year marks the halfway point in the International Code Council’s (ICC’s) 2021 code cycle. At this point in time, ICC focuses on changes to several documents, but the primary attention is on the International Existing Building Code (IEBC).

Contrary to how the title may be perceived, this is not a retroactive standard that is applied to existing buildings. Rather, it is a comprehensive approach to applying reasonable standards to buildings as they are renovated or converted for different uses.

The IEBC sets the scope and application of new construction requirements to renovation projects, which are a large percentage of projects in health care. Clear understanding of what has to comply with new requirements and what is grandfathered under older versions of the code is crucial for a renovation project.

The ICC Committee on Health Care (ICC CHC) brought forward several changes to align this document with current direction from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, including a new provision to allow certain rooms to be converted to storage within a hospital without upgrading the fire rating of the walls. These rooms must be under 250 square feet, have self-closing doors and be in a sprinklered facility.

Other changes introduced NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code, as an important reference. These changes use NFPA 99’s own scoping and applicability language to guide application of that document. Much work was done to identify the boundaries of work areas when adding sprinklers. Most importantly, the continued ICC attention given to health care acknowledges the complexity of these facilities and their construction.

Not every state or city has adopted the IEBC requirements. Whether your jurisdiction uses the IEBC is a good conversation starter with your local building department. This awareness can help you prepare future projects for success. The ICC CHC will be continuing to participate in the 2021 code cycle by preparing for and participating in the public comment hearings that are scheduled for Oct. 23-30 in Nevada.

John Williams, CBO, Chair of ICC Committee on Healthcare.