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Re: building codes

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Mark -

Hierarchy?  There's a hierarchy?  That might be nice.  Then again,
it might be a disaster.

The UBC and IBC are "model codes", meaning that theoretically
these are adopted as "base" documents by code enforcement
authorities.  The UBC was put out by ICBO, a building officials
group HQd in Whittier, CA.  The IBC was put out by the ICC, an
outgrowth of the ICBO and the various other code agencies from
around the US. Theoretically these documents are created based on recommendations from engineers, building officials, and anyone else
interested enough in the process to recommend a code change.
The ICC administers the code, and I don't recall just now
what the make-up of the balloting group is for code change
approvals.  The UBC and IBC both reference various other
documents, including ASTM specifications and things like the
ACI and AISC codes.  The IBC "replaces" the UBC.  I guess they
thought it sounded cooler to call it an "international" bulding
code, which is probably just as well, since I'm not sure that it
was ever adopted in a "uniform" manner.  Every jurisdiction seemed
to have their additions.

ASCE-7 is a consensus standard that theoretically defines
loads and load cases for buildings and other structures, like
the name suggests.  It is administered by ASCE.  In concept,
ASCE-7 is meant to be a core document that other documents can
reference to obtain definitions of consensus-based loadings.
One *might* argue that this is a foundation document.
I have no official opinion on the matter.  ;-)

The AISC/ACI/EIEIO codes are administered by various trade
associations (AISC/AISI/LGSEA/AWS) or technical associations
(ACI) which believe that it is important that their chosen
material have a design guide/manual/code that was developed
by persons with expertise in that particular material.  These
are often referenced or incorporated into "bulding codes" like
UBC/IBC.  I also have no official opinion on whether or not
these are fundamental documents.

NEHRP is not, as far as I am aware, actually adopted anywhere
as a requirement.  Is this incorrect?  I should be sure, but
I'm not.  The NEHRP documents are the outgrowth (in theory)
of research done to formalize a number of the procedures
and processes that have been vaguely referenced in codes or
practice publications.  This is what helps define the
"use valid engineering methods to obtain..." section of many
codes.  NEHRP started as a government program, strongly pushed
by the engineering and policy communities, to help reduce the
losses resulting from earthquakes.  I think some of the NEHRP
provisions have been incorporated, as I believe Scott pointed
out, in various model codes.  However, I don't know the extent
or penetration.

I hope that this leaves you feeling less like you're drowning
in the alphabet soup.   Well, I hope it at least didn't make
it worse.


Charles Hamilton, PhD EIT               Faculty Fellow
Department of Civil and                 Phone: 949.824.3752
    Environmental Engineering           FAX:   949.824.2117
University of California, Irvine        Email: chamilto(--nospam--at)

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