Massachusetts Code Update & Next Steps

Massachusetts is currently in a transition period where many of the applicable codes have recently changed or will be changing soon. The following is a list of the recent and anticipated major changes.

The Massachusetts State Building Code, 10th Edition (780 CMR)

Massachusetts is expected to adopt the 10th Edition of the Building Code based on the 2021 I-Codes. On April 11, 2023, the BBRS voted to hold three public comment hearings on the proposed amendments. Two of the hearings will be in-person (Boston and Springfield) and one of the hearings will be virtual. All hearings will be held on separate weeks, and a one-week public comment period will also be provided following the last public hearing. The BBRS will give 45 days of notice prior to the first hearing, which will occur shortly after the proposed draft is approved by the various departments under Governor Bakers executive Order 562 and Accounting and Finance. A draft of the amendments can be found at the following link.

Applicability: We anticipate the 10th Edition won’t be adopted until 6 months after it is approved to move  forward by the Governor’s Office (at the earliest).

It is our understanding that a 6-month concurrency period will be offered, after the 10th Edition is formally adopted. Lastly, any “substantial change” to the code coming out of the public comment review would require the code to go back through the State review process, which could add 1-2 months onto this schedule.

Stretch Energy Code/Specialized Energy Code (225 CMR 22 & 23)

The climate act of 2021 moved the authority for the Stretch Code promulgation to the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and at the same time required the development of a new Municipal Opt-in Specialized Energy Code. The adoption of these codes is independent of the 10th Edition adoption. On January 1, 2023, the residential stretch code was formally shifted from Appendix AA of 780 CMR to 225 CMR 22. This code applies to detached one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses, and residential buildings that are three stories or less in height. On July 1, 2023, the commercial stretch code will formally shift from Appendix AA of 780 CMR to 225 CMR 23. Both codes are based on the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

The Specialized Energy Code is a new option that is adopted as a municipal opt-in code like the Stretch Energy Code process. Cities and towns seeking to adopt will require an active vote by City council or Town meeting to opt-in to the Specialized Energy Code. As of June 6, 2023, sixteen cities/towns have voted to become Specialized Energy Code communities. Once a town votes to become a Specialized Energy Code community, formal adoption will be on either January 1st or July 1st (whichever occurs first more than 6 months after the vote). The following list provides applicability for the first 16 communities:

  • Effective July 1, 2023 (Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, Watertown)
  • Effective January 1, 2024 (Acton, Arlington, Boston, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Maynard, Newton, Sherborn, Stow, Truro, Wellesley, Wellfleet)

The list of communities adopting the specialized energy code is expected to grow. Keep up to date on this list at the following link.

MA Energy Code Community Map

Additional information on the stretch energy code can also be found on the State’s website below.

The 51 cities/towns that currently adopt the base energy code will continue to use the 2015 IECC (with amendments) until the 10th Edition is adopted or the city/town votes to be become a Stretch Code/Specialized Energy Code community.

Applicability: Based on conversations with DOER representatives the date of permit application locks in the applicable edition of the code. It’s recommended that projects impacted by these code changes work with their jurisdiction to confirm their process and necessary documentation to complete the permit application. Lastly, there is no concurrency period for the applicability of these new codes.

The Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code (527 CMR 1.00)

On December 9, 2022, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code shifted to the 2021 Edition of NFPA 1, Fire Code. Unofficial amendments to this code can be found on the State’s website below. It should be noted that additional amendments were promulgated on February 3, 2023, which can also be found in the link below.

Applicability: Effective immediately upon adoption to all new and existing projects.

The Massachusetts Electrical Code (527 CMR 12.00)

On March 1, 2023, the Massachusetts Electrical Code shifted to the 2023 Edition of NFPA 70, National Electrical Code (NEC). Unofficial amendments to this code can be found on the State’s website below. It should be noted that the version posted on the State’s website notes an effective date of February 17, 2023, which was corrected in the MA. Register #1491, 3/17/2023.

Applicability: Date of electrical permit application, not building permit application.

Uniform State Plumbing Code (248 CMR 10.00)

The plumbing board is currently in the process of making updates to the Uniform State Plumbing Code. Preliminary drafts include changes to plumbing fixture factors, occupancy requirements and considerations for group gender neutral restrooms.

Applicability: A timeline for adopting an updated version of the plumbing code has yet to be announced but is expected within the next 12 months.

Massachusetts Architectural Access Board Regulations (521 CMR)

The Massachusetts Architectural Access Board has created a subcommittee that has been working on a complete overhaul of 521 CMR to align with the ADA. The subcommittee meets once a month and is open to the public to listen (schedule in the link below).

Applicability: A timeline for the adoption of this new edition of MAAB has not been announced.

Application of any information provided, for any use, is at the reader’s risk and without liability to Code Red Consultants. Code Red Consultants does not warrant the accuracy of any information contained in this blog as applicable codes and standards change over time. The application, enforcement and interpretation of codes and standards may vary between Authorities Having Jurisdiction and for this reason, registered design professionals should be consulted to determine the appropriate application of codes and standards to a specific scope of work.