Volume 9, Issue 1 - January 2008

Code Concerns

California Code Changes
More Than Just California Manufacturers Have to Pay Attention 
by Mike Fischer

The state of California has completed rulemaking recently within several different agencies responsible for regulations affecting building products and products sold in California. With the adoption of the International Building Code (IBC), there are new requirements for products installed in wildfire hazard areas, more stringent energy code requirements and the implementation of regulations for some composite wood products containing formaldehyde. 

California Code Review 
Californiaís statewide building code is based on the 1997 Uniform Building Code (UBC) (with state-approved revisions) and is now being updated via a new adoption of the 2003 International Building Code. The 1997 Uniform Building Code pre-dates code references and mandatory requirements for testing and labeling of exterior doors, windows and skylights to industry standards for water penetration and air infiltration. 

Until now, exterior windows and skylights installed in California were required to meet windload requirements based on the fastest-mile wind speed provisions in the UBC. Now that the code has been updated, labeling to AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/IS2/A440, with the required water penetration testing will be the new law of the land. The water test pressure, however, will be based on 3-second gust wind speed measurements in the IBC, which are more stringent than the UBC pressures. 

Skylights also will be included in the new California requirements, while exterior entry doors will not be required to meet the water testing provisions of the IBC. As the California building code is updated, provisions found in the I-Codes will become part of California law. Meanwhile, this recent adoption means that manufacturers who market their products in California will have to test and label to these new requirements. 

Fire, Energy and Formaldehyde Issues
The California Office of the State Fire Marshal (CA OSFM) has updated standards for construction in wildfire-urban interface areas with greater likelihood of exposure to wildfires. For exterior doors and windows, the CA OSFM has provided alternate compliance paths with prescriptive and performance-based requirements. The prescriptions for exterior glazing, in place to reduce testing and labeling costs for fire testing to OSFM standards, include the use of insulated glazing, with at least one of the panes tested to safety glazing requirements. 

In its effort to control peak energy demand during summer months, the California Energy Commission (CEC) continues to review window performance as part of the overall energy code program. The CEC is currently reviewing code modifications with particular emphasis on reductions in solar heat gain. Formaldehyde emissions from resins used in composite wood products, medium density fiberboard and similar assemblies have been the subject of rulemaking by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). After several years of study, public hearings and stakeholder meetings, the emissions regulations will now begin phase-in. Product manufacturers using components included in the rule will be required to maintain records of testing, chain-of-custody documentation and third-party review documentation.

Looking ahead, the California Building Standards Commission will look to adopt the International Residential Code (IRC) for one and two-family dwellings. Coordinating the IRC with existing provisions in the IBC will be a large task. California-specific amendments will address issues like seismic, balanced fire protection, and energy code requirements. One of the goals of creating the International Codes from the three legacy model U.S. codes was the streamlining of code requirements for building product manufacturers. With Florida, New York, and now California implementing the I-Codes, that goal is closer to completion. 

Michael Fischer of the Kellen Company serves as director of codes and regulatory compliance for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association. He may be reached at MFischer@wdma.com. Mr.†Fischerís opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of†this magazine.


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