Each month RTM explores the top news and headlines affecting the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) communities.
Changes to ICC building and Fire Codes for Healthcare Facilities
The International Code Council (ICC) partnered with the American Society for Healthcare Engineering to form the Ad Hoc Committee on Healthcare as a way to discuss code changes that positively affect hospitals and maximize safety for the occupants. The committee, made up of healthcare facilities managers and building officials, created a better understanding of how hospitals function, and was brought forward to the ICC membership by way of the code change proposals.
The code changes were discussed and examined in a highly collaborative and open process with other industry representatives, including fire protection, door hardware and varying experts within the construction industry. Code changes were developed for both the IBC and the IFC, and many passed for the 2015 versions. To learn more about the IBC, IFC and ICC code changes, click here.
DoE Setting New Standards for Commercial Boilers
The Department of Energy (DoE) recently released a notice of proposed rulemaking on energy efficiency for commercial boilers that could increase their efficiency level by 5 percent. According to the Technical Advocacy Manager of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, Joanna Mauer, the most common commercial boilers sold today have an average lifespan of 25 years and a minimum energy efficiency level of 80 percent.
As part of a legal requirement, the DoE must consider changes to standards once every six years. Before the release, the DoE had informally considered an efficiency level of 95 percent. The 85 percent level suggested in the proposal was lower than many anticipated, since there is a break point at about 90 percent efficiency level, Mauer said. “It is quite possible that the conservative stance taken by the DoE on energy efficiency rules is to stay shy of that break point. Until about the 90 percent level, a non-condensing boiler is used. After that, the switch is made to condensing units,” Mauer said. To see what the next step is in implementing the proposal, click here.
Creatively Cutting Energy Use in Building
A recent issue of the Atlantic explored innovative ways of reducing energy use in buildings. The story looks at various approaches being researched in tandem with the Department of Energy. They include heated undergarments, fan-equipped chairs and robots that follow people around blowing cool or warm air on them. Although odd, the various prototypes being built can reduce winter heating and summer cooling by four degrees and would cut greenhouse-gas emissions by as much as two percent nationwide. Click here to read more about the University of Maryland’s robot, Roving Comforter, also known as RoCo.