AWC: Building code process works

Feb 21, 2017
Maryland SB 722 creates unfair market advantage

WASHINGTON – American Wood Council (AWC) Northeast Regional Manager Matt Hunter, BCO, along with numerous representatives from building owners, architecture, development, and engineering, all testified today in opposition of Maryland Senate Bill 722. The legislation, introduced by Sen. Joan Carter Conway, would prohibit a multifamily dwelling from being constructed using wood-frame construction in municipal jurisdictions exceeding a specified population density. 

The full written testimony is available here.

Testimony excerpt: “We oppose any legislative effort that affects technical aspects and interpretations of the nationally adopted building codes. This process is routinely pursued by engineers, the fire service, building code officials, architects, and construction material representatives. This system has worked for well over fifteen years, is driven by members of the International Code Council, receives regular public input, and is vetted by proponents vigorously defending their proposals in a broadcasted public forum.

“Fortunately for us all, both building occupants and firefighter death statistics continue to fall.  While even one death is too many, the current building code, and its successor codes show that the focus on life safety is correct. With continued code development and building professional involvement, buildings will become even safer. The code as written does not discriminate against any specific building material. Rather it mandates that the material must perform to a uniform standard to achieve a clear fire resistance rating. No building material is immune from the damaging effects of fire.  The code identifies risk and correlates permissible building materials to safely address those risks.

“The proposed legislation creates an unfair market advantage for non-wood products, creates a conflict with the adopted Maryland building codes, and will require the expenditure of considerably more embodied energy, with non-renewable and unsustainable raw materials.”