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Code Alert: California, 02 March 2010

California announces adoption of next generation of building codes:

At the recent annual meeting of the California Building Officials (CALBO), California Building Standards Commission Executive Director Dave Walls announced that on January 12, 2010, the Commission approved adoption of the 2010 California Building Code, 2010 California Residential Code, 2010 California Green Building Code, and the 2010 California Electrical Code. These new codes are scheduled to be published on or before July 1, 2010, maintaining the target enforcement date of January 1, 2011. The building codes are based on the 2009 Editions of the ICC codes.

The 2010 California Electrical Code (CEC) is based on the 2008 National Electrical Code with State amendments. Those amendments are minimal for this edition of the electrical code. The two primary agencies involved in residential construction, the Division of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and the Office of the State Fire Marshal (SFM), were emphatic to keep the newest electrical safety requirements intact. The expanded GFCI requirements, expanded AFCI requirements, and tamper resistant receptacles were all retained intact. There were only minor objections from the home builder community to these new requirements, but not the strong opposition that has been seen in other jurisdictions.

This will mark the first residential code adopted in California, based on the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC). However, the adoption of the CRC (California Residential Code) will include only the structural and life safety portions; the electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and energy portions of the CRC were removed. There were complaints voiced by several building officials because, to them, the point of having a separate residential code is to be able to construct a simple residence using only one code book. NEMA was among several organizations to submit comments to use the National Electrical Code as the basis for all electrical installations, as well as to retain those critical new safety requirements incorporated in the 2008 Edition of the NEC.

Finally, California will become the first state in the nation to implement and enforce a green code for all construction statewide. Many of the provisions in the 2010 CalGreen Code have been included in a voluntary green standard in California for the last few years. Seventeen of the provisions in the voluntary standard were incorporated into the mandatory provisions, which will go into effect with the balance of the new code package on January 1, 2011.

More information on the California Code adoption and process, content, and timing can be found at the Building Standards Commission web site: http://www.bsc.ca.gov/default.htm.

Submitted by Joe Andre



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