BOMA International Supports Adoption of the International Plumbing Code
The International Codes, which BOMA International has strongly supported since their inception, are facing significant challenges around the country. The adoption of the “I” codes is essential in order to bring consistency to the nation’s building regulatory structure. An important component of the ICC family of codes is the International Plumbing Code (IPC).
For decades, state and local governments have adopted one of three model plumbing codes developed by the Building Officials and Code Administrators International (BOCA), the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), and the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI). In 1994, these organizations came together to form the International Code Council (ICC), with the express purpose of promulgating a single set of model codes in the best interest of the building community and the general public.
The ICC International Plumbing Code is currently used by numerous jurisdictions. The IPC is designed to protect public health and safety through provisions that do not unnecessarily increase construction costs or restrict the use of new materials, products or methods of construction, and without giving preferential treatment to particular types or classes of materials, products, or methods of construction.
Opportunity for Improvement
In broad terms, the International Plumbing Code is superior to any other plumbing code, more specifically the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC). The IPC focuses on scientifically based health and safety concerns while the UPC mandates traditional, labor-intensive plumbing materials and methods that serve to promote the interests of the plumbing unions. The International Plumbing Code, on the other hand, promotes advanced, cost-effective technology prohibited under the Uniform Plumbing Code.
Opponents of the International Plumbing Code include the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, the Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors Association, the Mechanical Contractors Association and most importantly their silent partner, the United Association of Apprentices and Journeymen of the Plumbing and Piping Industry, more familiarly known as the UA or the Plumbers Union.
Much of the political clout behind the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC), which is developed by IAPMO, comes from these sources. Ironically, the UPC also permits the unlimited use of plastic pipe. An extraordinary amount of money is being spent to promote the UPC, serving these organizations’ vested interests without regard for public health, safety, and welfare.
Arguments Supporting the IPC
Following are three major points that can be used in favor of jurisdictions adopting the International Plumbing Code (IPC), as opposed to the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC):
1) The process that develops and maintains the IPC is far superior to that underlying the UPC.
The IPC was developed through the International Code Council, an organization made up of the three model code groups: Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA), International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), and Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI). Input is received from a diverse, nationwide body of building, plumbing, mechanical and fire officials, as well as industry representatives such as BOMA and the GSA.
In contrast, the UPC is developed exclusively by the plumbing and mechanical industry and plumbers’ union representatives, along with a few self-selected plumbing and mechanical officials from the western region.
2) The International Plumbing Code is designed to work harmoniously with the International Building Code and others within the family of International Codes.
“Incompatible and conflicting codes” is the most frequent complaint voiced by those who must interpret, apply, and enforce the codes. Entities responsible for complying with those codes deserve a fair opportunity to understand the requirements without protracted appeals, hearings and multiple interpretations from different agencies in the same jurisdiction.
The provisions in the IPC are coordinated with other International Codes so that conflicts are eliminated. Jurisdictions that adopt conflicting codes will not only have to deal with internal conflicts within their code structure, but “turf” battles arising within their code enforcement agencies. Such unnecessary, counterproductive, and costly battles must be avoided.
3) The UPC contains provisions that are unnecessary and unworkable.
The UPC contains provisions that, if adopted, would require materials and methods that are unnecessary from a safety and sanitation standpoint and would add unnecessary costs to construction. As its content is exclusively controlled by the plumbing and mechanical union and related interests, the UPC places the interest of union members above public health and safety.
Adoption of the International Plumbing Code, in conjunction with the International Building Code, will go a long way to simplifying the building regulatory system. Governments adopting the IPC will set a precedent for others that will be considering the “I” codes.
Given the resulting benefits, it is strongly recommended that BOMA members undertake an intensive effort to influence your state legislature to adopt the International Plumbing Code rather than the Uniform Plumbing Code.