10th Edition MA Building Code Update

Earlier this spring, we issued an update regarding the 10th edition of the Massachusetts State Building Code (780 CMR) with an anticipated promulgation to occur by mid-2020, in which the 2018 editions of the I-Codes (IBC, IEBC, IMC, and portions of the IFC) were planned to be adopted. However, as of June 11th, the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) voted to redirect efforts and table the current code adoption proceedings regarding the 10th Edition of the 780 CMR, and agreed to the following goals:

  1. The 10th Edition of 780 CMR will adopt the 2021 Editions of the I-Codes.
  2. The 10th Edition of 780 CMR will have an effective date of January 1st, 2021.
  3. Massachusetts will adopt new building codes on a 3-year cycle moving forward.

Another outcome of the 10th Edition re-direction is that the state’s code adoption process will also better align with the ICC’s code development schedule, which now allows the Massachusetts State Building Code to implement the latest versions of the I-Codes. Historically, 780 CMR has incorporated editions that have typically been between 3 – 6 years behind the latest edition of the I-Codes.

An important note is that the change in direction does not affect the promulgation of the 2018 Edition of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). This code will still become effective on January 1, 2020, as required by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 143, Section 94 (o).

The update from the 2015 to 2021 IBC will result in numerous changes that will affect building design and construction. A few highlights include:

  • Mass Timber Buildings. There will now be 3 new construction types to support tall mass timber buildings including Type IV-A, Type IV-B, and Type IV-C construction. Type IV-A construction will permit mass timber buildings to be up to 18 stories in height. Learn more about mass timber buildings here.
  • Higher Education Laboratories. A new method for hazardous chemical compliance has been added into the code by means of “Higher Education Laboratories” in Group B occupancies. This method provides an alternate approach to compliance rather than the Control Area & Group H, High Hazard Room methodology that was previously the baseline design mechanism. The Higher Education Laboratories are required to meet the provisions of Section 428 and IFC Chapter 38.
  • Occupied Roofs. The code has been expanded to provide additional requirements for occupied roof spaces. Included in these are the need to classify the occupancy of a roof in accordance with the Use Group (per Chapter 3) that they most closely resemble, as well as providing guidance on height and area compliance for occupied roofs.
  • Roof Construction Fire Rating. Where every portion of roof construction is at least 20 feet above any floor below, all portions of the roof construction (secondary and primary members) such as girders and beams are now exempted from the fire rating requirements of IBC Table 601. Previously, this exception only applied to secondary structural members.
  • Business Occupant Load. The method of calculating occupant load in business areas has been revised, which will typically result in reduced design occupant loads. However, higher design occupant loads can be now be assigned to concentrated business areas such as telephone call centers and similar uses.
  • Integrated Testing for Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems. Integrated testing of fire protection and life safety systems in accordance with NFPA 4 is now required in all new high-rise buildings and new buildings containing a smoke control system. This test must be performed prior to issuance of the certificate of occupancy and at intervals not exceeding 10 years thereafter.

Please feel free to reach out to schedule a code presentation on the pending 10th Edition adoption to discuss significant changes and how they will impact your future design and construction projects.