Ohio’s Recent Code Changes Promote Building Safety and Performance

June 20, 2024

Ohio recently joined the majority of states – and many nations – in adopting the International Plumbing, Building, and Mechanical Codes (IPC®, IBC®, and IMC®) in March 2024. These codes are part of the International Codes (I-Codes®) published by the International Code Council (ICC®), a nonprofit association that develops model codes and standards for building safety and performance and are aimed at leveraging the collective experience and knowledge of the scientific community to promote best building practices.

Overview of the International Codes

The IBC is a model building code that addresses items such as structural strength, means of egress, accessibility, fire and life safety, energy efficiency, materials quality, and occupancy classification. The IPC (currently adopted in 37 other U.S. states) sets minimum regulations for plumbing systems and components to protect the life, health, and safety of building occupants and the public, and covers topics such as water supply and distribution, water heaters, and sanitary drainage and venting. The IMC regulates the design, installation, maintenance, alteration, and inspection of mechanical systems that are permanently installed and used to provide control of environmental conditions and related processes within buildings – including such things as ventilation, exhaust systems, duct systems, and fire suppression systems.

Benefits of Code Adoption

The adoption of these codes by the Ohio Board of Building Standards is intended to enhance building quality and safety based on proven scientific principles and best practices that reflect the latest technological advances and innovations in the building industry. The codes are also compatible with each other and with other I-Codes to provide a consistent and coordinated approach to building regulation. The codes are revised on a three-year cycle through a consensus-based process that draws upon the expertise of hundreds of plumbing, building, and safety experts from across North America.

Streamlining Regulatory Processes

Ohio’s decision to adopt these codes underscores a commitment to streamlining regulatory processes and promoting consistency in building practices statewide. By adhering to a standardized set of guidelines, stakeholders, including architects, engineers, contractors, and building inspectors, benefit from clearer expectations and improved collaboration throughout the construction process. This not only reduces the likelihood of errors and delays but also fosters a culture of accountability and professionalism within the industry.

Incorporation of the 2024 Ohio Existing Building Code

Ohio’s building code changes also incorporated the 2024 Ohio Existing Building Code, which based on the 2021 International Existing Building Code (“IEBC®”). “Overall, the adoption of the new codes is a good thing, especially since we now have a more clearly defined way to approach renovations of existing buildings,” said Eric Pros, AIA, MBA, CPD, Director of Design at DS Architecture. “Having a better-defined code provides a stronger set of parameters to work within to uphold an architect’s duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. Understanding that there are different paths to take through the code that will lead to the best solution for the built environment, the new codes ultimately provide architects and engineers with an upgraded tool kit to bolster design options.”

Proven Benefits in Other States and Countries

Looking beyond Ohio, numerous examples from other states and countries demonstrate the tangible benefits of implementing all the new codes. From reducing the risk of waterborne illnesses through improved plumbing standards to enhancing structural integrity and resilience in the face of natural disasters, these codes have proven instrumental in safeguarding public health and welfare while promoting sustainable development practices.

Enhancing Public Safety and Infrastructure

Ohio’s adoption of the I-Codes represents a proactive approach toward safeguarding public safety and enhancing the quality of infrastructure across the state. By aligning with internationally recognized standards, Ohio positions itself at the forefront of modern building practices, helping to attract investment and ensuring that its built environment remains competitive and resilient in the face of evolving challenges such as climate change and technological innovation.

KJK can help ensure new developments and renovations are compliant with these changes to the code. Contact KJK Economic Development & Incentives attorneys Rich A. Morehouse at RAM@kjk.com or James J. Scherer at JJS@kjk.com to learn more.