Building Codes


Helping HVAC Contractors Comply with Building Codes and Code Officials to Better Understand HVAC

Building Codes WorkerThe purpose of building codes are to guide government agencies in meeting their minimum obligations to protect the general welfare of the population they serve. Codes are designed to prevent damage to property, as well as injury or death to persons, and these objectives are accomplished by applying accumulated knowledge to the avoidance, reduction, or elimination of definable hazards.

Codes generally apply to the built environment and, when adopted by the pertinent authority, become lawful requirements that mandate compliance. An authority may write its own code document or may adopt other code documents. Different states and/or municipalities are free to adopt different codes.

Standards are usually regarded only as recommendations that do not have the force of law, unless the standard is adopted by the authority having jurisdiction. It is common for sections of a local code to refer to nationally recognized standards. In many instances, entire sections of the standards are adopted into the code by reference, and then become legally enforceable.

There are three main organizations in the United States who write codes that impact the indoor environment industry: IAPMOICC and NFPA.

Choose whether you are a contractor looking to learn about building codes or a code official looking to understand HVAC:

» Codes for Contractors » For Code Officials

ACCA Codes Development Position Statement

The model building codes are intended to ensure that our buildings are safe, sustainable, affordable, and resilient; they contain the minimum safeguards for their construction. Though the distinct code-promulgating organizations have different procedures for the development of their various codes, they all include provisions for the call for, publication of, discussion about, and voting on public code change proposals. These code change proposals are (ideally) intended to refine the codes by addressing gaps or moving them forward in their stated mission.

In practice, however, the various players in the code development arena (code officials, design professionals, code consultants, trade associations, builders/contractors, manufacturers/suppliers, and government agencies) may submit code change proposals that are intended to give a specific process, product, or organization special consideration in the administration of a code.

As a national trade association that represents more than 60,000 professionals and 4,000 businesses in the indoor environment and energy services community, ACCA does not support changes to the model codes that would limit a designer’s options to provide quality service to their customer. ACCA recognizes that any aspect of a building system may be installed incorrectly due to subpar field practices. However, these installation issues should be addressed through the development of consensus standards on the specific issue, and not by code banning a viable design alternative.

ACCA Manuals

ACCA in Building Codes

For years, ACCA's technical manuals and standards have been an integral part of the national model building codes' requirements for proper HVAC design.  The following model codes currently reference, or have in the past referenced, ACCA's various design manuals and standards:

  • IAPMO's Uniform Mechanical Code
  • IAPMO's Uniform Swimming Pool, Spa, and Hot Tub Code
  • ICC's International Residential Code
  • ICC's International Energy Conservation Code
  • ICC's International Mechanical Code

To see the detailed references in each model code, including section excerpts, please see the document for the specific cycle:

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