Massachusetts updating to the 2015 I-Codes.
The Massachusetts State Board of Building Regulations and Standards expects to issue the 9th Edition of the Massachusetts State Building Code during the second quarter of 2016, after completion of the public comment and hearing process. The new codes will incorporate the 2015 editions of the International Building Code, the International Existing Building Code, the International Energy Conservation Code, and by reference, the International Fire, International Mechanical and International Residential Codes, all with Massachusetts amendments. The 8th Edition, originally adopted in 2010, is based on the 2009 versions of the I-Codes but was subsequently amended to incorporate the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code.

The state's update to the 2015 I-Codes, particularly the International Mechanical Code, is drawing praise from code users and members of the industry.

"The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has consistently led the nation with building safety codes and forward-looking sustainable energy policies," said Don Chaisson, President of the Air Conditioning Association of New England. "Now, I am happy to see the state is implementing the 2015 International Codes, especially for our industry the 2015 International Mechanical Code."

Chaisson said some mechanical code changes to look for are:

  • IMC 106.1.1 "Annual Permit" where an annual permit for mechanical repairs can be issued to a person, firm or corporation to perform mechanical work on individual mechanical systems or equipment that have already been approved when they employ a qualified tradesperson.
  • IMC 403.3.2 Mechanical Ventilation, which is a new provision that will increase the ventilation requirements for R-2 occupancies three stories or less in height, completely revising requirements for inclusion of mechanical exhaust and supply for each dwelling unit.
  "As President of the ACA New England, I look forward to promoting the adoption and working with our members to become familiar with the new Massachusetts codes," Chaisson said.

Other key changes include:

  • New structures over 100,000 sq. ft. and new supermarkets, laboratories and conditioned warehouses over 40,000 sq. ft. demonstrate energy use per square foot at least 10 percent below the energy requirements of the 2013 ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1, Appendix G, Performance Rating Method, on either a site or source energy basis.
  • The I-Code definition of fire area will allow building owners and designers to separate uses of a building (subdivide) with fire walls, fire barriers and horizontal assemblies, thus enhancing design flexibility and likely reducing costs.
  • An A2 Nightclub must contain a high occupant load density, which will benefit projects by reducing delays during permitting due to disagreements in interpretations and by reducing unnecessary safety measures.