NIBS States Proposed ABA Resolution to Make Codes and Standards Free Could Reduce Safety

The National Institute of Building Sciences issued an open letter to delegates attending the American Bar Association (ABA) Annual Meeting in August informing of the potential impacts if they vote to support a proposed resolution. The resolution—which advocates that copyrighted codes and standards incorporated by reference in legislation and regulation be made available for free—would alter the way codes and standards are developed in the United States.

In the U.S. construction industry alone, there are hundreds of copyrighted codes and standards that impact everything from seismic requirements and wind loads to water use and life safety. The standards developing organizations (SDOs) that develop these codes and standards have thousands of members, employees and volunteers that participate in the process to incorporate best practices and lessons learned to improve the standards. Each industry, from aeronautics and agricultural to electronics and telecommunications, has a similar structure and industry participation to address their specific needs. Such standards improve safety, drive innovation and improve commerce, both domestically and around the world.

The U.S. Government recognizes the benefit of private industry standards development, as directed by the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA, P.L. 104-113) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119.

If the ABA’s suggested resolution and related advocacy campaign is successful, private-sector-developed standards would be subject to new requirements due to their incorporation by reference in legislation and regulation, and the ability for SDOs to recoup development costs would change considerably.

The development of codes and standards is expensive. Today, the cost is born by those who are ultimately impacted by the standards (whether by participating in the process or purchasing the resulting document). By making such information free online, the ABA resolution would hamper cost recovery through such mechanisms. The result would be that private-sector organizations may no longer be able to invest in the development process, leaving existing standards to remain stagnant (and thus inhibiting innovation) and shifting the responsibility (and expense) of developing future standards to the government.

ABA’s proposed resolution attempts to mitigate any copyright concerns by encouraging government agencies to negotiate licenses with SDOs. However, this change would require agencies to hire staff and implement contracting mechanisms, making it necessary for tax payers to cover the cost of standards development.

The National Institute of Building Sciences—which was established by the U.S. Congress to work with both the public and private sectors to advance building science and the design, construction and operations of buildings to meet national goals of health, safety and welfare—is extremely concerned that the ABA is advocating a one-size-fits-all legislative vehicle that will alter the long-standing tradition of private-sector-developed standards in the United States. The result could reduce safety, increase costs and add a burden to the government and tax-paying citizens.

In lieu of moving forward with the resolution, the Institute suggests the ABA focus on engaging in a meaningful dialogue with the SDO community to help address the changing nature of access to copyrighted materials through the internet and other electronic sources, and, after taking the long-term goals and impacts into consideration, identify a mutually acceptable path forward.

Read the letter.

ROXUL Introduces Its Energy Design Center

Insulation manufacturer ROXUL Inc. has introduced its Energy Design Center (EDC) on its website. The EDC will serve as a one-stop hub for building industry professionals to access a wealth of resources, high-quality tools, training and tailored advisory services to unlock the energy savings potential of their buildings. Relevant to the North American market, the Energy Design Center is supported by a panel of international building science and energy-efficiency experts from industry and educational institutions.

In addition to providing direct and customized support to commercial building professionals, the Energy Design Center will provide comprehensive access to the latest third-party building science research, presentations, multi-media, case studies, product and service solutions, specification and application guides, technical and data sheets, industry news, events and more.

“The ROXUL EDC was created in direct consultation with architects, designers and specifiers to meet their real-world needs in an environment of ever-increasing energy targets, tighter building codes and legislation,” says Rockford Boyer, B. Arch. Sc., BSSO, North American manager, Energy Design Center, ROXUL Inc. “It is specifically aimed at helping them achieve the highest energy efficiency requirements without sacrificing other design and performance priorities, all while taking into account sustainability, durability and resiliency. The ROXUL EDC is rooted in science and innovation.”

ROXUL EDC services and resources are offered at no cost and focus on five core competencies:

  • Building Science Expertise: Building enclosure analysis, detailing and material specifications.
  • WUFI Modeling: 1-D transient hygrothermal analysis, heat, air and moisture analysis, roofing heat transfer models (climate-driven R-value).
  • Thermal Bridging: THERM models (2-D) / HEAT 3 Models (3-D), overall U-value analysis, insulation detailing analysis.
  • R-value Calculations: Code and standards compliance, overall effective R-value calculations, dew point analysis.
  • Full Building Modeling: DesignBuilder and IES-VE energy modeling, included HVAC and electricity (default) and building envelope sensitivity analysis.

Plans are in place for the EDC to support a fully integrated education center, offering American Institute of Architects (AIA) accredited training courses that qualify for continuing education credits.

In the meantime, visitors to the ROXUL EDC can find advanced learnings on commercial building construction and building science topics, such as climate-driven R-value, continuous insulation, hybrid roofing systems, the implications of temperature-dependent thermal conductivity for exterior walls and insulated sheathing, draining balance testing and wall comparison, deflection testing of exterior wall attachments, hygrothermal simulations and analysis of solar-driven inward water vapor, the implications of temperature-dependent thermal conductivity for commercial roofing systems, the impact and benefits of membrane colour and roofing strategy on the performance of conventional roofing assemblies, and much more.