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Discussions end on proposed joint codes

September 14th, 2006

The International Code Council (ICC) announced recently that negotiations have ended with the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) on a joint venture to develop a single plumbing code and single mechanical code.

“Both organizations worked cooperatively in good faith to try and put this joint venture together,” said ICC board president Henry Green. “We made it clear to IAPMO from the beginning that the code development process had the potential to be a real stumbling block, and that we would seek input from our members and stakeholders before finalizing any agreement. Our entire organization has given extensive consideration to a hybrid code development process that would have satisfied IAPMO’s desire to maintain ANSI accreditation. Ultimately our members and stakeholders made it clear that they were unwilling to deviate from the ICC governmental consensus process, in which public officials – who have no economic interest in the outcome — determine the content of the code.”

A successful joint venture would have strengthened both organizations by bringing the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) and Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC) into the comprehensive, coordinated family of codes offered by ICC, according to Green.

“A successful venture also would have increased resources available for training and member services, and reduced costly code adoption struggles,” said Green. “Like IAPMO, we are disappointed that we could not reach an agreement. But the commitment to ICC’s process runs deep among our members and stakeholders. We received input from all across the country that deviating from that process was unacceptable, even for a goal as worthy as creating a single family of codes and ending code adoption battles. ICC will not sacrifice the ICC governmental consensus process for the one code mission.”

Green said that a wide array of ICC’s members, chapters and stakeholders provided extensive feedback on the outline of the proposed joint venture, and voiced significant concerns about the code development process, composition of committees, the base document, and ownership. ICC uses a code development process that permits any interested party, including consumers and industry, to participate on committees, recommend code changes, testify, make motions and vote. However, the process reserves the final decision on code content for governmental members, who have no vested interest except public health and safety.

IAPMO subscribes to an ANSI style consensus process that involves the participation of industry, governmental representatives and consumers, and reserves the decision on code content to a representative committee from various interest categories.

In August 2005, ICC and IAPMO began formal discussions to explore the joint development of new plumbing and mechanical codes. Initiated by then ICC President Frank Hodge and IAPMO President Chris Salazar, both organizations signed a memorandum of understanding in September 2005. The parties committed to explore a joint venture that would allow them to work cooperatively to develop successor codes to the Uniform and International Plumbing and Mechanical Codes.

Meetings were held in November and February 2006 to discuss whether the organizations could agree to essential elements needed to create joint plumbing and mechanical codes. In May, both groups announced the points for a tentative agreement on certain key elements. In July, ICC hosted a National Town Hall Meeting to publicly share details of the proposed joint venture and receive feedback from ICC members and stakeholders. ICC also created an e-mail address to obtain input, provided information on its Web site and scheduled an open forum to discuss the joint venture at its September Annual Conference.

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