Written by Brad Crawford
Building regulations and other similar codes of practice are generally scrutinized and changed (if necessary) after some sort of catastrophe. It’s all about learning from the past and trying to safeguard the future.
The 1994 California Northridge Earthquake was the major catalyst in the amendment of building regulations across the United States. The necessary changes were noticed in the aftermath of the quake when the four major agencies – The National Science Foundation, FEMA, USGS and National Institute and Standards of Technology – met to analyze the whole situation, taking into account the response and recovery plus the reconstruction projects following the quake.
Collectively, they discovered something rather interesting. Although many of the structures and buildings had managed to survive the earthquake, the internals of the buildings had spectacularly failed, including the electrical, plumbing and mechanical elements of the structures. This resulted in the closure of nine hospitals, a total 2500 beds. Something had to change.
New building regulations were brought into force which covered every state, and an emphasis was put into what were labeled “critical buildings” including hospitals and other health care centers, hurricane and earthquake agencies, fire department and rescue stations, among others. The next step was to formulate a standard national code which could be implemented for all buildings, ensuring that they were better suited to withstand the pressures of a major disaster.
A number of IBC codes were put into place (International Building Codes) which were designed to cover the standards necessary of the equipment and fitting of HVAC systems among many other things. Every state has adopted some level of these codes, which fundamentally holds engineers, architects, equipment manufacturers and contractors responsible for the design,implementation and installation of suitable systems which are of the desired quality and design for the corresponding IBC code.
Any firm which does not uphold the standards set by the building regulations runs a real risk of losing their professional licenses. Manufacturers must ensure that their products have a guaranteed performance and pass stringent tests outlined in the relevant building code.
This is particularly important for all manufacturers and dealers of HVAC equipment as these building regulations serve as the first time in which they can be held responsible for the performance of the supplied equipment they manufacture or fit.
These building regulations are now enforced in all states across the country, although to various degrees. It is extremely important that you choose an HVAC company which has the necessary qualifications, certificates and licenses and fits only the equipment which is permitted by law within the building and location you do live or do business. Not only will this ensure that your HVAC is of the highest quality but that it will be reasonably safe should another major disaster occur.