Codes and Standards Development | WBDG (2023)


Within This Page

  • Introduction
  • Description
  • Application
  • Emerging Issues
  • Relevant Codes and Standards
  • Additional Resources
(Video) Introduction to Codes and Standards

Codes and standards provide a common language and requirements for the design, construction, and operations of buildings. Such codes and standards have long served as the main tool of governments in setting agreed-upon norms in a jurisdiction. The concept of building codes goes as far back as Hammurabi (circa 1772 BCE) who established a performance-based code with strict penalties for noncompliance.1 Codes were developed and adopted in Europe as it was settled and evolved over many decades. Those codes were imported to the new world and formed the basis for city codes as the U.S. was formed and grew. Significant fires in Chicago and Baltimore and a San Francisco earthquake in the late 19th and early 20th centuries spurred further development of codes for the design and construction of buildings, efforts fostered by the insurance industry. The primary focus at that time was to avoid loss of property and loss of life.


Codes have increased in stringency since the early focus on loss of life and property. They have had to address a myriad of new technologies and design concepts and have expanded beyond health and safety requirements to include other societal values such as accessibility, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and sustainability.

Codes and standards typically serve as minimum requirements for many of the high-performance building attributes. Stretch codes or green codes provide criteria above minimum requirements but allow for consistency and guidance for designers and code officials.

(Video) #SEILive: Code Development

Codes are developed with the intent of being adopted by a jurisdiction as criteria for design, construction, or operation of buildings. Standards may or may not be developed with the intent to serve as regulatory requirements. However, they may be adopted as such by a jurisdiction—at which point they become the code for that jurisdiction. For example, the International Code Council's (ICC) International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is a code while ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1 Energy Efficient Design of New Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings is a standard written in code intended language.

While initially developed by individual cities and states to address their particular needs, several organizations now develop "model codes" that are intended to provide consistency across the country, facilitate the incorporation of the latest knowledge, and reduce the costs of development. These documents provide the necessary criteria to make sure buildings are designed and constructed to be considered safe, secure, healthy, energy efficient, accessible, etc. They are then available for adoption by Federal, state, and local government as laws or regulations, or by anyone through contracting or other mechanisms that can secure their application and use. While the development process is slightly different within each organization, the process is intended to comply with several key criteria:

  • The development process includes a balance of all relevant stakeholders including government, citizens/public interests, and building industry representatives-without undue influence from any one particular stakeholder;
  • A rigorous process is followed to make sure that recommendations for revision to existing or criteria for new model codes and standards receive proper consideration and resolution; and
  • The process is transparent, to facilitate trust and diverse engagement.

Due to the protections and fundamental criteria identified above and the impact of revisions on communities, the development process often takes three to five years.

(Video) Webinar - Safety First: Evolving Codes and Standards for Energy Storage Systems

Common Code and Standard Development Processes

Process NameDefining Characteristics
ANSI Consensus
  • Consensus must be reached by representatives from materially affected and interested parties
  • Standards are required to undergo public reviews when any member of the public may submit comments
  • Comments from the consensus body and public review commenters must be responded to in good faith
  • An appeals process is required
  • Standards developed by ANSI accredited organizations that follow this process are considered American National Standards
Government Consensus
  • Participation in the development of the codes, including code hearings, is open to all at no cost.
  • Anyone can submit a code change proposal or make a public comment
  • Code committees must consider all views before voting
  • Final decisions are made in an open hearing by government officials
State or Local Amendments to Model Codes or Standards
  • In some jurisdictions, amendments may be made to the model codes or standards
  • The actual process for amendment may vary considerably however, most processes offer some level of public/stakeholder engagement
  • Proposed amendments may be made by or through an advisory board for consideration by the jurisdiction's legislative body during the adoption process
  • The legislative body may have delegated the development, review and incorporation of amendments to a committee that ultimately adopts the code for the jurisdiction
State or Locally Developed Code
  • If a jurisdiction chooses to develop its own code, a Council or Committee is usually charged with such development.
  • The development process usually relies on administrative procedures or another approved process to assure public/stakeholder due process

The commonality provided by adoption of model codes or standards results in many benefits for the public, the building industry and government.

  • The public is assured that buildings provide a minimum level of protection from hazards, accessibility to users, and maintenance of public health.
  • Manufacturers have the consistency necessary to invest in the production and development of products that meet these common needs.
  • Designers and contractors have consistent criteria to follow.
  • Owners have buildings that possess a consistent baseline of attributes.
  • All industry members work under mutual requirements to achieve a common result and education and training activities can be developed for each industry segment while mindful of the overall code and standard.
  • Governments have criteria developed with building expert input to assure technical feasibility and cost-effectiveness, access to an education and training infrastructure, and cost savings due to consistent methods for review and enforcement.

Codes typically contain two types of requirements—prescriptive and performance. Prescriptive requirements provide minimum standards for building materials, products, systems, etc. In a way, they stipulate specifically what to provide and often represent a checklist of items and the minimum acceptable specifications for those items. In contrast, performance-based requirements set a desired end state and do not provide minimum characteristics per se—they set the desired result without specifying how to achieve that result. In most instances, a measure of achieving the desired result is based on the anticipated results associated with following the prescriptive requirements. Both of these types of requirements are generally applied when designing and constructing buildings with the premise that, if followed, the building will perform at an acceptable level. A third type of requirement is gaining traction: outcome-based requirements, where the performance outcome is established, it is not aligned with any particular prescriptive provisions and compliance is verified after rather than before occupancy.

(Video) Energy Codes, Standards, and Certifications


Compliance with those norms is generally secured through their enforcement by governments or their designated agents in the design and construction of buildings.

Emerging Issues

Despite the often cited characterization of the codes and standards development process as slow, many new efforts and issues have come to the fore. The expanded focus on "green" or sustainable buildings has prompted the development of new codes and standards. These stretch codes or green codes provide enforceable criteria for the achievement of beyond-minimum requirements. As is often the case, these stretch codes must balance the desire to apply stringent criteria with the capacity for implementation by designers and enforcement by governments.

While education and training is vital, the enforcement of most code criteria usually ends with the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. As the building industry moves from the achievement of design criteria to the measurement and verification of actual performance, codes and standards are being challenged to facilitate such a shift. Commissioning and operations and maintenance activities occur after the certificate of occupancy and thus outside typical compliance methods. Many thought leaders are exploring how to achieve performance results outside the traditional compliance mechanisms.

(Video) Highlights from "Codes and Standards: How Are They Different and How are Codes Developed?"

Outcome-based codes have been identified as a potential new methodology for achieving specific levels of performance for those requirements that are easily measurable. Outcome-based codes establish a target level and provide for regular measurement and reporting to assure that the completed building performs at the established level. In demonstrating that the required outcome for ongoing performance is met, the appropriate building official or other state, local or private sector entity must establish methods for measurement and reporting to address post-occupancy compliance whether mandatory or through a voluntary program offering incentives for compliance.

Relevant Codes and Standards

Codes and standards cover most aspects of building design and construction. The National Council of Governments on Building Codes and Standards (NCGBCS) of the National Institute of Building Sciences has developed a taxonomy intended to help identify codes and standards, their areas of applicability and relevant federal, state, and local agencies. See the Code Taxonomy page for more information.

Additional Resources


  • ASHRAE—A developer of several standards focused on building energy use, indoor environmental quality, HVAC systems, and commissioning that are either adopted as code or incorporated by reference into codes.
  • ASTM International—While not a developer of codes, ASTM develops numerous standards that are either incorporated into regulations or are cited within building codes.
  • Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP)—A joint initiative of the Alliance to Save Energy, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, BCAP's goal is to reduce building energy use by promoting the adoption, implementation and advancement of energy-efficient building codes and standards on the state and local levels and internationally.
  • Coalition for Current Safety Codes (CCSC)—The CCSC was founded by the International Code Council (ICC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and is aimed at advancing safety by advocating for the adoption of current building, sustainability, electrical, and life safety codes.
  • Department of Energy (DOE), Building Energy Codes Program (BECP)—DOE, through BECP, supports energy efficiency in buildings through the development and implementation of model codes and standards. DOE also provides technical assistance to states and localities as they adopt and enforce energy codes.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Building Science Branch—The FEMA Building Science Branch provides technical services for the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA). The branch develops and produces multi-hazard mitigation guidance that focuses on creating disaster-resilient communities to reduce loss of life and property.
  • International Association of Building Officials (IABO)—IABO was established to provide a forum for building officials to promote the profession and set up systems to provide critical public safety training to its members.
  • International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO)—The IAPMO Group provides code development assistance, education, plumbing and mechanical product testing and certification, building product evaluation, and a quality assurance program.
  • International Code Council (ICC)—ICC is dedicated to helping the building safety community and construction industry provide safe, sustainable, and affordable construction through the development of codes and standards used in the design, build, and compliance process.
  • National Council of Governments on Building Codes and Standards (NCGBCS), National Institute of Building Sciences—NCGBCS helps state and local jurisdictions enhance the public's social and economic well-being by coordinating efforts across geographic boundaries to make technical findings, improve performance criteria and promote standards to ensure safe, durable, accessible, and efficient buildings.
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)—The mission of NFPA is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

Points of Contact

1. [According to Hammurabi's code, if a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death. If it kills the son of the owner, the son of that builder shall be put to death. If it kills a slave of the owner, then he shall pay, slave for slave, to the owner of the house. If it ruins goods, he shall make compensation for all that has been ruined, and inasmuch as he did not construct properly this house which he built and it fell, he shall re-erect the house from his own means. If a builder builds a house for someone, even though he has not yet completed it; if then the walls seem toppling, the builder must make the walls solid from his own means.]

(Video) Be a Voice in the ICC Standards Development Process


What is the main purpose of the codes and standards? ›

Codes can be approved by local, state or federal governments and can carry the force of law. The main purpose of codes is to protect the public by setting up the minimum acceptable level of safety for buildings, products and processes. A technical standard is an established norm or requirement.

What are different codes and standards? ›

Codes are generally accepted sets of rules that tell you what you need to do. Standards provide the “how to” of executing codes. Specifications, unlike codes or standards, outline the requirements of a specific company or product.

What is the most important building code? ›

NFPA 101 life safety code

The NFPA life safety code is their most widely used source of information in the design and construction of new buildings, as well as renovations to existing structures, all with focus on protecting people and occupants from the effects of fire and related hazards.

Why are codes developed? ›

Codes are developed with the intent of being adopted by a jurisdiction as criteria for design, construction, or operation of buildings. Standards may or may not be developed with the intent to serve as regulatory requirements.

What are the benefits of designing to codes and standards? ›

Purposes and objectives of codes and standards

The objectives of codes are to prevent damage to property and injury to or loss of life by persons. These objectives are accomplished by applying accumulated knowledge to the avoidance, reduction, or elimination of definable hazards.

Why is it important to maintain code? ›

Coding standards help in the development of software programs that are less complex and thereby reduce the errors. If programming standards in software engineering are followed, the code is consistent and can be easily maintained. This is because anyone can understand it and can modify it at any point in time.

What are the 3 types of codes? ›

The Three Types of Code
  • Boring Code. Boring code is when it makes perfect sense when you read it. ...
  • Salt Mine Code. This is the type of code that's bonkers and makes not a lick of sense. ...
  • Radioactive Code. Radioactive code is the real problem at the heart of every engineering team.
3 Feb 2020

What are the 4 types of code? ›

While the names of the coding paradigms sometimes vary, most experts agree on four primary types of code: imperative, functional, logical, and object-oriented.

What are the 3 types of standards? ›

Following are different types of standards: Basic standards. Normal standards. Current standards.

Why are referenced standards so important to the code development process? ›

The referenced standards are an enforceable extension of the code. Standards supplement the code by setting forth conditions or requirements that a material or method must meet, thereby providing an acceptable level of safety for building occupants.

What are standards used in building construction? ›

In the world of building and construction, ISO standards help codify international best practice and technical requirements to ensure buildings and other structures (known as civil engineering works) are safe and fit for purpose.

What do building codes contain? ›

Building codes are laws that set minimum requirements for how structural systems, plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), natural gas systems and other aspects of residential and commercial buildings should be designed and constructed.

How do you maintain coding standards? ›

Focus on code readability
  1. Write as few lines as possible.
  2. Use appropriate naming conventions.
  3. Segment blocks of code in the same section into paragraphs.
  4. Use indentation to marks the beginning and end of control structures. ...
  5. Don't use lengthy functions. ...
  6. Use the DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) principle. ...
  7. Avoid Deep Nesting.
2 Feb 2021

What is code example? ›

A code sample is a complete web page or application, with references to all required source files in its description.

What are the 4 most common benefits of having standards? ›

Benefits include:

Access to new markets - International Standards help prevent trade barriers and open up global markets. Increased market share - International Standards help increase productivity and competitive advantage. Environmental benefits - International Standards help reduce negative impacts on the ...

What are the benefits of using standards? ›

Standards help manufacturers reduce costs, anticipate technical requirements, and increase productive and innovative efficiency. The European Commission recognises the positive effects of standards in areas such as trade, the creation of Single Market for products and services, and innovation.

What are the top 10 codes? ›

These are some of history's most famous codes.
  • The Caesar shift. Named after Julius Caesar, who used it to encode his military messages, the Caesar shift is as simple as a cipher gets. ...
  • Alberti's disk. ...
  • The Vigenère square. ...
  • The Shugborough inscription. ...
  • The Voynich manuscript. ...
  • Hieroglyphs. ...
  • The Enigma machine. ...
  • Kryptos.
10 Sept 2015

What are full codes? ›

“Full Code”

Full code means that if a person's heart stopped beating and/or they stopped breathing, all resuscitation procedures will be provided to keep them alive. This process can include chest compressions, intubation, and defibrillation and is referred to as CPR.

What are the two common types of codes? ›

Algebraic coding theory is basically divided into two major types of codes: Linear block codes. Convolutional codes.

What are the 5 types of code? ›

Here's a list of all the different types of computer coding languages:
  • Object-oriented programming.
  • Functional programming.
  • Procedural programming.
  • Logical programming.
  • Database programming.
15 Oct 2022

What is the most common type of code? ›

JavaScript is the most common coding language in use today around the world. This is for a good reason: most web browsers utilize it and it's one of the easiest languages to learn. JavaScript requires almost no prior coding knowledge — once you start learning, you can practice and play with it immediately.

What are 5 examples of standards? ›

Examples of Personal Standards
  • Save up for a child's college fund within 6 years.
  • Save 20% of your income towards retirement or investing.
  • Pay off your college debt within the next 3 years.
  • Limit your luxury expenses to $100 a month.
  • Attend one networking event monthly.
  • Invest 25% of your income in real estate.

What are the 3 importance of standards? ›

Benefits of Using Standards

For business, standards improve systems and processes; they reduce waste, cut costs and ensure consistency.

What are the 10 standards? ›

The 10 Professional Standards All Effective Teachers Must Meet
  • Learner development. The teacher understands how students learn and how they develop. ...
  • Learning differences. ...
  • Learning environments. ...
  • Content knowledge. ...
  • Application of content. ...
  • Assessment. ...
  • Planning for instruction. ...
  • Instructional strategies.

What is the difference between a code and a standard and why are they important to the safety of the public and the fire service? ›

One way of looking at the differences between codes and standards is that a code tells you what you need to do, and a standards tells you how to do it. A code may say that a building must have a fire-alarm system. The standard will spell out what kind of system and how it must work.

What do you do if you are required to use two different code publications for a project and there is a conflicting code requirement? ›

What do you do if you are required to use two different code publications for a project and there is a conflict between the code requirements? Compare the two requirements and use the most restrictive one.

What are the different kinds of codes in planning and construction? ›

  • International Building Code (IBC)
  • International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)
  • International Existing Building Code (IEBC)
  • International Fire Code (IFC)
  • International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC)
  • International Green Construction Code (IGCC)
  • International Mechanical Code (IMC)
  • ICC Performance Code (ICC PC)

What are standards and requirements? ›

Standards make things work by providing specifications (guidelines or requirements) for products, services and systems. If used consistently, they ensure quality, safety and efficiency. They may take the form of a Reference Document that provides details about the criteria involved.

What are the different types of standards used? ›

Following are different types of standards:
  • Basic standards.
  • Normal standards.
  • Current standards.
  • Attainable (expected) standards.
  • Ideal (theoretical) standards.

What are quality standards in construction? ›

At its core, quality in construction means that a project is completed within the defined guidelines set out in the Scope of Work. This document serves as a set of guardrails for the project based on the owner's expectations, and sheds light on how to execute the project in a way that meets these standards.

What is building standard and code? ›

A building code contains guidelines for the overall structure of a building including wall assemblies, size of rooms, foundations, floor plans, roof structures, staircase design and mechanical and electrical assemblies such as plumbing, drainage system, lighting, and fixtures standards.

What is building the code means? ›

November 2021. A building code (also building control or building regulations) is a set of rules that specify the standards for constructed objects such as buildings and non-building structures. Buildings must conform to the code to obtain planning permission, usually from a local council.

What is general building code? ›

Building codes specify minimum standards for the construction of buildings. The codes themselves are not legally binding. They serve, rather, as "models" for legal jurisdictions to utilize when developing statutes and regulations.

How can we improve code quality? ›

4 tips to improve code quality
  1. Embrace coding conventions. Development teams usually create a list of guidelines known as coding conventions. ...
  2. Use a code linter. ...
  3. Adopt continuous integration. ...
  4. Leave helpful comments. ...
  5. Integrate code quality with Jira and Bitbucket apps.
13 Jan 2022

How can coding be improved? ›

Practice, practice, practice.

If you want to code better, then you have to spend time coding. One popular resource for those looking to improve their coding skills is Project Euler, a website that offers users coding problems to solve.

How do you enforce good coding standards? ›

Code standards enforced by automated rule checks improve the readability and maintainability of code—as well as reduce the number of bugs. Set standards help programmers and teams establish self-improvement routines and healthy habits to follow.

What is code short answer? ›

In communications and information processing, code is a system of rules to convert information—such as a letter, word, sound, image, or gesture—into another form, sometimes shortened or secret, for communication through a communication channel or storage in a storage medium.

What is code simple words? ›

1 : a systematic statement of a body of law especially : one given statutory force. 2 : a system of principles or rules moral code. 3a : a system of signals or symbols for communication. b : a system of symbols (such as letters or numbers) used to represent assigned and often secret meanings.

How do you explain a code? ›

In computer programming, computer code refers to the set of instructions, or a system of rules, written in a particular programming language (i.e., the source code). It is also the term used for the source code after it has been processed by a compiler and made ready to run on the computer (i.e., the object code).

› Glossary › Glossary: B ›

Building code Definition › Glossary › Glossary: B › Glossary › Glossary: B
A building code is a set of regulations written by city or county officials with the help of construction pros that governs the design, construction and modific...
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) explains Codes & Standards in the following statement: "Just as construction practices have evolved over tim...
The main purpose of building codes are to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the construction and occupancy of buildings and st...

What is the purpose of the code of ethics and standards of practice? ›

The Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice sets out the professional knowledge, skills, values and expectations applicable to all RECEs regardless of role and the setting in which they may practise.

What is the purpose of the health standards? ›

The National Health Education Standards (NHES) were developed to establish, promote, and support health-enhancing behaviors for students in all grade levels—from pre-Kindergarten through grade 12.

What is the purpose of the code of conducts codes of practice standards of practice and policy frameworks that Organisations use? ›

Purpose of a Code

Codes of ethics and codes of conduct set out the relevant principles or standards to guide performance. They help ensure the organisation is effective, open and accountable.

What are some important steps to develop your own code? ›

Follow these steps to create a personal code of ethics:
  • Determine your purpose for writing a personal code of ethics. Establish your personal reasons for developing this code. ...
  • Make a list of your traits. ...
  • Consider your relationships. ...
  • Create a set of statements to follow. ...
  • Develop guidelines.

What is the importance of safety and health standards? ›

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) deals with all aspects of health and safety in the workplace and has a strong focus on primary prevention of hazards. Its goal is to prevent accidents and harm to people from work-related activities.

Why are quality standards important in healthcare? ›

A key purpose of Quality Standards is to clarify what quality care is, by providing governments, health insurers, service providers, professionals and patients with definitions of high quality health care, and performance measures that are reliable and meaningful to the local setting in which they are used.

What is the importance of standards of practice in health and community services? ›

The standards are a resource for quality improvement. Quality or good practice is something that all community organisations aspire to. The standards can help organisations better understand where they are going well and identify and plan how improvements can be made.

What are the responsibilities of employees within codes of practices? ›

While at work a worker must: take reasonable care for their own health and safety. take reasonable care for the health and safety of others. comply with any reasonable instructions, policies and procedure given by their employer, business or controller of the workplace.

What is the aim of developing standards of practice? ›

Purpose: To identify the values and ethics which underpin ethical social work practice and to provide a guide and standard for ethical social work conduct and accountability.


1. Be a Voice in the ICC Standards Development Process
2. ASA Codes and Standards
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3. Design Codes and Standards Library
(NCEES Media)
4. Agile Development The Fine Art of Coding Standards
5. Lecture 68: Regulations, Codes and Standards
(IIT Bombay July 2018)
6. Difference ASTM and ASME and basic information of standards and codes
(ReFresh Engineers)
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