Court Ruling Allows Continued Development of Public Health and Safety Standards

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Hon. Tanya S. Chutkan) has issued a ruling that will support federal, state and local governments’ efforts to support public health and safety through the use of voluntary consensus codes and standards. The court granted a motion for summary judgment filed by a number of standard development organizations (SDOs), including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), ASTM International and ASHRAE. The court’s ruling permanently enjoins Public.Resource.org from its previous systematic infringement of numerous SDO copyrighted codes and standards. The ruling vindicates the longstanding public-private partnership pursuant to which government entities may, if they choose, incorporate by reference high quality safety codes and standards.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision, which recognizes the importance of a time-tested process that serves governments and individuals well and is vital to public health and safety,” says Jim Pauley, president of NFPA.

The history of not-for-profit SDOs developing voluntary consensus standards goes back more than a century. Governments, businesses, and individuals across the country rely on a variety of works, from product specifications and installation methods to safety codes and standards.  SDOs, not governmental agencies, underwrite the costs of developing standards.
 
“The court’s ruling means federal, state and local agencies can continue to rely on not-for-profit SDOs to develop voluntary consensus standards at a high level of excellence and at minimal cost to government,” says Kathie Morgan, president, ASTM International.

SDOs pay for the standard development process and invest in new standards with the money earned selling and licensing their copyrighted works.  This model allows SDOs to remain independent of special interests and to develop up-to-date standards.  It also allows the U.S. government, and governments at all levels, the freedom to decide whether to incorporate these standards by reference without a drain on their resources.
 
“We and many other SDOs already provide free online access to many standards as part of our commitment to safety,” says Timothy G. Wentz, ASHRAE president. “And, preventing the infringement of copyrighted material will allow not-for-profit SDOs to continue meeting the needs of the people and jurisdictions we serve.”
 
For more information about this issue visit the website.

Tiny House Appendix Will Be Included In 2018 IRC

The International Code Council (ICC) reported that public comment RB168-16, the tiny house appendix, has passed the final round of voting, receiving the required 2/3 majority vote. As a result, a tiny house specific appendix will be part of the 2018 International Residential Code (IRC), allowing people to receive a Certificate of Occupancy (COO) for their tiny house when built to meet the provisions of the adopted code appendix. A lack of recognition of tiny houses in the IRC had been a hindrance to the creation of legal tiny houses in communities across the U.S.

The approval of RB168-16 is a culmination of the efforts of Andrew Morrison (www.TinyHouseBuild.com) and a team of architects, builders, designers, and educators. The team initially defended the proposed appendix at the ICC public comment hearings this fall at which time they received the first 2/3 majority vote necessary to place RB168-16 on the official ballot.

Tiny houses have gained popularity in the last few years as a result of historically high housing costs, flat lined wages, and a grassroots movement towards minimalism. A tiny house specific code helps not only those wanting to build tiny but also local building officials overwhelmed with applications for tiny house projects.

“RB168-16 brings much needed safety standards to tiny house construction,” says BA Norrgard, volunteer coordinator at Habitat for Humanity and founding member of the Tiny House Collaborative. “This is a breakthrough that holds potential for positive change in the housing sector, which is in crisis.”

The approval of RB168-16 is historic; however, each jurisdiction currently enforcing the IRC must now adopt the appendix for it to become law. That is the next step for the tiny house appendix and one that Morrison’s team intends to meet head on.

Morrison, a builder for over 20 years who leads tiny house workshops and has taught over 2,500 students to date says, “We have a group of enthusiastic people in the tiny house community and we will work together to continue the positive movement forward for the industry.”