Code Adoption Remains Active in West Coast Region

Code Adoption Remains Active in West Coast Region

By Mike Stone, West Coast Field Representative, NEMA

Alaska, California, Hawaii, Utah, and Washington currently have code adoption activity taking place. The busiest state is California.


On December 16, 2015, the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) voted to adopt the 2016 edition of the California building, fire, and existing building codes. On January 19–20, 2016, the CBSC was scheduled to have voted on the rest of the International Code Council (ICC) codes (I-codes), as well as the 2016 California Electrical Code.

These codes, collectively known as the 2016 edition of California Building Standards Code (Title 24, California Code of Regulations), are based on the 2015 edition of the ICC International Building, Residential, Fire and Existing Building Codes; the 2015 edition of the Uniform Plumbing and Mechanical Codes; and the 2014 edition of the National Electrical Code® (NEC). They are scheduled to be published by June 30, 2016, and will become effective on January 1, 2017.

The 2016 California Electrical Code (based on the 2014 NEC) purposefully contains very few state amendments. During code adoption hearings, several of the building standards commissioners and state agency directors mentioned that they are trying to use national model code language. This aligns with the NEMA policy of direct adoption of the NEC, without modifications, and bodes well for the future of code adoption in California.


The Washington State Building Code Council voted in November 2015 to adopt the 2015 editions of the I-codes as the basis for the state’s construction codes. The 2015 State Building Code, based on the 2015 editions of the International Building, Residential, Mechanical, Fire and Energy Conservation Codes and 2015 Uniform Plumbing Code, will become effective on or around July 1, 2016. The NEC is adopted separately by the Department of Labor and Industry; the 2017 NEC is scheduled to be considered for adoption in late 2016.


Hawaii is currently using the 2006 I-codes and the 2008 NEC. Code adoption has been delayed for several years due to a lack of administrative resources at the state agency responsible for construction codes. However, the adoption process is now proceeding and the codes are expected to be effective in April 2016. The 2012 I-codes and the 2014 NEC will be used as the basis for the new Hawaii building codes.


Similar to Hawaii, in Alaska the adoption of the 2014 NEC has been delayed due to a lack of administrative resources. However the adoption package is now in final legal review, after which it will be sent to the lieutenant governor for signature. Thirty days after signature, the code will be effective. Alaskan officials are hopeful for a February 2016 effective date.


In Utah, the legislature is responsible for the adoption of all construction codes. There has been considerable opposition in the last several years, mainly from homebuilders, to the timely adoption of new residential codes. NEMA and our coalition partners were successful during the 2015 legislative session in defeating what was originally a proposal to go to a nine-year, and then a six-year, code cycle. Those defeated code cycle bills included the adoption of the 2014 NEC, so while the negative aspects of extending the code cycle were defeated, the adoption of the 2014 NEC was also delayed. The 2016 legislative session promises to be controversial again. NEMA and its coalition partners are prepared to engage the legislature once again.

This piece was originally published in the February 2016 issue of ei, the magazine of the electroindustry.

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