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1.3 Codes and Standards

Graphic showing an example of the requirements stated by The Public Buildings Amendments of 1988, 40 U.S.C. 3312 (formerly section 21 of the Public Buildings Act of 1959, 40 U.S.C. 619)

Federal Law. The Public Buildings Amendments of 1988, 40 U.S.C. 3312 (formerly section 21 of the Public Buildings Act of 1959, 40 U.S.C. 619), require that each building constructed or altered by GSA or any other federal agency shall, to the maximum extent feasible, be in compliance with one of the nationally recognized model building codes and with other applicable nationally recognized codes.

Nationally Recognized Codes. For all design and construction work performed on federal buildings by GSA or those functions under GSA’s construction authority, GSA has adopted the technical requirements of the following nationally recognized codes referred to in this subsection. The technical requirements of these nationally recognized codes will supplement other GSA requirements mandated by Federal Laws and Executive Orders, as well as other GSA criteria noted within this document that has been established to meet our customers needs and their unique requirements. In addition, the latest edition of the nationally recognized codes, including the current accumulative supplements, in effect at the time of design contract award shall be used throughout design and construction of that project.

Building Code. The International Code Council (ICC) is a consolidated organization that is comprised of what was formerly the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), and the Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI). Based upon this consolidation and consistent with GSA’s established national policy, the GSA will utilize the technical requirements of the family of codes issued by ICC in lieu of the National Building Code (published by BOCA), the Uniform Building Code (published by ICBO), and the Standard Building Code (published by SBCCI).

The ICC family of codes includes, but is not limited to: International Building Code (IBC), International Fire Code (IFC), International Plumbing Code (IPC), International Mechanical Code (IMC), and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The ICC family of codes is available through www.iccsafe.org/ .

Furthermore, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has established its own family of national model codes and standards. Consistent with GSA's long-standing policy to comply with local codes and standards to the maximum extent practicable, NFPA codes may be used (to the maximum extent practicable) in jurisdictions where NFPA codes have been duly adopted by that locality.

Life Safety Code. GSA has adopted the technical egress requirements of the NFPA, Life Safety Code (NFPA 101), in lieu of the technical egress requirements of the IBC. NFPA 101 is available through www.nfpa.org/.

National Electric Code. GSA has adopted the technical electrical requirements of the NFPA, National Electric Code (NFPA 70), in lieu of the technical electrical requirements of the ICC Electrical Code. The National Electrical Code is available through www.nfpa.org/.

State and Local Codes. GSA recognizes that the national building codes are typically the foundation of state and local building codes. However, state and local codes also represent important regional interests and conditions. As such, state and local building codes shall also be followed to the maximum extent practicable.

Legally, however, buildings built on federal property are exempt from state and local building codes. Notwithstanding, it is GSA’s policy to comply with state and local building codes to the maximum extent practicable.

National Standards. The latest edition of the nationally recognized standards herein, in effect at the time of design contract award shall be used during design and construction.

Lease Construction. Lease construction is defined as new construction of a building for Government use in response to GSA’s formal solicitation for offers. The construction may be either on a pre-selected site assigned by GSA to the successful offeror or on the offeror’s site. Therefore, the building will be developed on private land and the building will be leased to GSA. In these cases, the applicable State and local government codes apply. The developer/owner (i.e., offeror) must also obtain the necessary building permits and approvals from the appropriate state and/or local government officials. The Facilities Standards do not apply to Lease Construction, it does, however, apply to Lease Construction with Government Option to Purchase and is recommended for significant build-to-lease buildings. For requirements for Lease Construction see SFO specific program, i.e. seismic, environmental, fire safety, accessibility, etc.

Lease Construction with Government Option to Purchase. In cases where GSA’s formal solicitation for offers has an option for GSA to purchase the building at a future date, the GSA adopted nationally recognized codes and requirements apply as well as the applicable state and local government codes. Should a conflict exist between applicable State and local government codes and the GSA requirements, the GSA requirements take precedence. However, GSA shall carefully consider each conflict based on adequacy, cost, and nationally accepted practice. In addition, the developer/owner must also obtain the necessary building permits and approvals from the appropriate state and/or local government officials as well as from GSA.
 
Conflicts between Nationally Recognized Codes and GSA Requirements. To ensure flexibility, it is GSA policy to make maximum use of equivalency clauses in all nationally recognized codes. Should a conflict exist between GSA requirements and the GSA adopted nationally recognized codes, the GSA requirement shall prevail. All code conflicts shall be brought to the attention of the GSA project manager for resolution.

Code Requirements for Alterations. Generally, involved building systems need only be upgraded to correct deficiencies identified by GSA, unless the entire building is being renovated. All new work is required to meet the applicable nationally recognized codes adopted by GSA and interpreted by the specific GSA Region. If only a portion of the building is being renovated, the IBC shall be evaluated to determine if the entire building must be brought up to code compliance. Any questions or concerns should be discussed with the GSA project manager.

Zoning Laws. During the planning process and development of associated environmental documentation for new construction and renovation projects, GSA shall consider all requirements (other than procedural requirements) of zoning laws, design guidelines, and other similar laws of the state and/or local government. This includes, but is not limited to, laws relating to landscaping, open space, building setbacks, maximum height of the building, historic preservation, and aesthetic qualities of a building. The project design team is to fully address such laws and requirements in their planning and design documents. Any proposed deviations from such laws are to be documented, fully justified, and brought to the attention of the GSA project manager for resolution.

Local regulations must be followed without exception in the design of systems that have a direct impact on off-site terrain or utility systems (such as storm water run-off, erosion control, sanitary sewers and storm drains and water, gas, electrical power and communications, emergency vehicle access, and roads and bridges).

With respect to the number of parking spaces, the requirements stated in the building program take precedence over zoning ordinances in all cases. Although GSA may not be able to directly compensate for displaced parking (as a result of site acquisition), the project team should seek creative alternatives and partnerships to address parking concerns brought about by GSA’s development. Considerations may include shared parking facilities and strategies to encourage transit use.

In the case of leased facilities built on private land, all local zoning ordinances apply.

State and Local Government Consultation, Review, and Inspections. The GSA project manager shall provide to the appropriate state and/or local government officials the opportunity to review the project for compatibility with local plans, zoning compliance, building code compliance, and construction inspections. This must occur early in project design so that the design can easily respond to appropriate recommendations. This includes, but is not limited to the review of drawings and specifications, any on-site inspections, issuing building permits, and making recommendations for compliance with local regulations and compatibility with local fire fighting practices. The GSA project manager shall also inform the state and local government officials that GSA and its contractors will not be required to pay any amount for any action taken by the State and/or local government officials to carry out their mission. However, GSA shall review all recommendations made by state and local government officials. Each recommendation shall be carefully considered based on adequacy, cost, and nationally accepted practice. However, GSA has the final authority to accept or reject any recommendation from state and/or local government officials.

Zoning and other considerations relating to urban design issues. The design team should offer local officials an opportunity to informally review and comment on the design concept, for compatibility with local plans, zoning, and design guidelines. Key design milestones, such as at initial concepts and around the project’s peer review sessions, offer logical timeframes for these reviews and can be especially helpful to the designers. If local officials choose to review the concept, the GSA project manager should establish a concise window in which comments can be accepted (e.g., no longer than 30 days), and this should be coordinated with the project design schedule. If local officials choose not to review the design concept, this should be noted in the project file.

Design review for code compliance. If the state and local government officials elect to review building designs for code compliance (i.e., final concepts, preliminary designs, and final working drawings), such design submissions will be officially forwarded to the appropriate local officials by the GSA project manager. Local officials will be provided 30 days for their review and comment in writing for each proposed design submission, with no time extensions. If comments are not received after the commenting period is over, the GSA project manager will proceed with project execution.

Construction Inspections. If the state and local government officials elect to perform code compliance construction inspections, the GSA project manager shall include special provisions in the A/E’s and each contractor’s contract to handle the additional requirement of coordinating their work with state and local government officials. Any findings resulting from such inspections by the state and local government officials shall be immediately communicated to the GSA project manager for consideration. It is to be clearly understood by all parties (e.g., state and local government officials, construction contractors, GSA, etc.) that the state and local government officials do not have the authority to reject, accept, or make changes to the work and is there only to assist GSA in achieving code compliance. State and local government recommendations. The GSA project manager should make an effort to incorporate state and local government recommendations when reasonable and when in the best interest of the government. Notwithstanding, it is GSA’s policy to comply with state and local building codes to the maximum extent practicable. GSA shall review all recommendations made by state and local government officials. Each recommendation shall be carefully considered based on adequacy, cost, and nationally accepted practice. However, GSA has the final authority to accept or reject any recommendation. The GSA project manager shall maintain a record of all recommendations and comments from state and local government officials for the duration of the project.
 


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