Codes and standards
In the common lexicon of codes and standards development, and especially in the various international arenas, the term “standards” is most commonly used to characterise all the various types of standardising documents (i.e., codes and guidelines, building standards, guides, certifications, policies and construction regulations).
A building code (also known as building control or building regulations) is a set of rules that specify the standards for constructed objects such as buildings and non-building structures.
Building codes are generally intended to be applied by architects, engineers, interior designers, constructors and regulators but are also used for various purposes by environmental scientists, real estate developers, manufacturers of building products and materials, facility managers, tenants, and others.
All of the above are a set of rules that specify the standards for constructed objects as building - regulating their design, construction, maintanence, and/or operation.
Why do we need building standards?
Codes and standards serve many purposes but foremost is their contribution to the overall betterment of civilization. Their role is particularly important as we work toward the challenges of a safer and more cost-effective built environment.
In many ways, today’s world is complex, and codes and standards provide a point of measurement to simplify our lives. In this sense, codes and standards provide the practical foundation for a better tomorrow.
Building codes have 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, and many more.
Requirements in building codes
Building codes typically contain two types of requirements - prescriptive and performance based. However, a third type of requirement is gaining traction - outcome-based.
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.
Gaining attention is the 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.
Reduce energy and preserve indoor environment in buildings
Building codes are important for reducing energy use and preserving indoor air quality. In general, the primary ways of conserving energy and preserving air quality in buildings involves:
Efficiency: improving the energy efficiency of equipment and appliances, and optimize the use,
Energy: and improving the thermal performance of the building envelope and reducing air change rates to minimize the energy used to condition the indoor air,
People: and thus providing adequate indoor air quality - supply sufficient outdoor air to dilute indoor-generated contaminants.