Up to Code



The BOMA International codes team spent 2018 working hard on the International Code Council’s (ICC) 2021 Group A code development process. Over the course of the year, BOMA International’s Building Codes Committee reviewed the 1,400 proposed code changes and developed 155 positions. From this, BOMA staff developed a 2021 ICC Building Codes Voting Guide for property professionals to share with their local code officials to encourage them to support BOMA’s positions on the proposed code changes. Ultimately, BOMA achieved an impressive 74 percent success rate favorable to its positions during the first and most crucial round of code development committee hearings, scoring a huge victory for BOMA members.

ICC code adoption is an intensive three-year cycle during which positions, statements, votes and negotiations are all essential ingredients in creating the new code language. BOMA International’s participation within this complex process has far-reaching benefits for the industry. Among other victories, BOMA lobbied to alter language that would require fire sprinklers in existing buildings over 75 feet tall. The original proposal would have mandated that any existing commercial or residential building with a floor level 75-120 feet above ground level and lacking an appropriate means of egress or fire alarm must install a fire sprinkler suppression system.

This proposal did not include any exception for historic properties. All properties above 120 feet would have been required to install such a system, regardless of egress or alarm system. For BOMA members in mid-rise buildings, this new requirement could have cost millions of dollars per building, as fire sprinkler systems require a much larger water system than the standard domestic supply into a building. Through negotiations, the considered change was revised to include only the 120-foot-tall buildings, plus a one-year deadline to submit a compliance plan and a 10-year implementation schedule to complete. Given that the first adoptions of the 2021 codes should not occur until 2023, this provides BOMA members a minimum of 14 years before compliance would be mandatory.


BOMA achieved an impressive 74 percent success rate favorable to its advocacy positions during the first and most crucial round of ICC code development committee hearings.


After the code development committee hearings and their ensuing negotiations concluded in April, public comment hearings occurred in October. During these hearings, BOMA International’s codes team testified nearly 50 times on BOMA’s proposals and, where appropriate, in support of other proposed changes. BOMA lobbied on a variety of important proposals focused on everything from sprinklers in larger open parking garages to the location and flammability of artificial decorative vegetation.

Voting for the Group A Codes cycle occurred at the end of 2018 after the public hearings and the results will be released later this year. BOMA International has since released an updated version of the 2021 ICC Building Codes Voting Guide and will be working vigilantly with members and code officials to ensure BOMA’s positions on the outlined changes are adopted.

The next code cycle begins again in April, with the ICC 2021 Group B focused on energy codes.

This article was originally published in the January/February 2018 issue of BOMA Magazine.