Codes & Standards

Building codes establish minimum requirements for safeguarding the public health, safety and welfare of occupants in the built environment. Codes are necessary because without them there is no universal baseline of understanding or reference to create safe environments with any predictability, process or governance.

The primary goal of building codes is to provide buildings that protect against the loss of life and property from fire and similar emergencies. The secondary goal is to establish guidelines that provide minimum standards and tolerances for the intended use and performance of buildings.

Building codes are a collection of regulations, standards and guidelines that govern the process and systems of building design. They encompass many volumes of books, each embracing a particular discipline, specialty or approach to the design process. Each code that is adopted by a federal, state or local agency becomes a document enforceable by law. Building codes are not a "fixed body of knowledge," but rather a collection of evolving standards that change in response to new research, technology, product development, testing, information and actual occurrences of building failures, accidents and natural disasters.

Code Publishers

International Code Council
Develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings. Most jurisdictions that adopt local codes choose the international codes developed by the ICC. Can purchase code books online.

National Fire Protection Association
Develops codes and standards intended to reduce the possibility of fire hazards and their associated risks. Can purchase codes online as well as search for available documents, review summaries and table of contents.

Standards Organizations

American National Standards Institute
Coordinator of voluntary standards and technical specifications

American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers
Uniform testing and standards for HVAC

American Society for Testing and Materials
Manages the development of standards and technical specifications

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Develops and applies technology, measurements and standards

Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Protects U.S. employees in the workplace

Underwriters Laboratories
Testing agency for items such as those related to building materials, fire protection and fire resistance

National Organizations

National Institute of Building Sciences

State Codes