Factors That Affect the Building Codes of Today
Each year, we see variations, expansions, and altogether new building codes come about. It’s largely due to the fact that the construction and design industries are flooded with a seemingly endless stream of new products, processes, and techniques. We all want to stay ahead of these trends, but before new ideas can be implemented in practice, they must be regulated in a way that protects the health and safety of those who live and work in these structures.
This year, we have seen trends that reflect an ever-growing population; these are practices that cater to urbanization, city living, driving rates, changes in housing composition, as well as infrastructure updates. It should also come as no surprise to know that sustainability trends continue to evolve as green practices have become the new norm.
In addition to all of these areas of concentration, technology has really been at the forefront, as builders employ the use of it to aid in the improvement and efficiency of how construction projects are run. So, to better examine how and why building codes evolve, we’ve put together a list of some of the factors that influence them:
Housing Size and Composition
As has always been the trend, economics and demographics affect the housing market. This year, the need to construct affordable housing options for those of the baby boomer and millennial generations seems to have become even more prominent than it has been in previous years. To answer the demand for affordable housing, the construction of micro-apartments and small homes is gaining even more momentum, as they offer more affordable housing in high-demand urban areas. As an alternative, many families are opting to expand existing homes to suit a multi-generational living situation.
Smaller apartments in a building of the same square footage simply means that a greater number of people will be living in the same size space. Residential and commercial building codes will need to address this higher concentration of people in a single area.
A long-standing trend, 2016 has seen the ongoing battle to address infrastructure issues. We’re tackling such issues as the development of creative public transportation solutions, traffic solutions, both vehicle and pedestrian, as well as green energy solutions.
Building codes will need to be updated to address congestion in train stations and other hubs for public transportation, and the greater demand on resources will certainly be included in that.
Perhaps not surprisingly, driving rates are on a steady decline. This means that parking is no longer a smart or viable use of land and space, especially in busier urban areas. There are codes that govern parking lots and garages, specifically, so we expect to see plenty of changes in this arena, as well.
Sustainable building practices and the use of sustainable materials continues this year, as we expect it to be the trend for many years to come. As energy conservation becomes more popular among citizens, the want and need to incorporate high-efficiency systems, such as heating and cooling, are being requested. In addition to these elements, we’re also hearing more people request features like LED lighting and water conservation processes that use low-flow plumbing. Building codes are sure to evolve within the next several years in order to govern these practices.
This year, the consumption of renewable energy has surpassed that of traditional sources of energy. Although regulations have not yet mandated the use of renewable energy in most states, commercial and residential property owners are being rewarded for the implementation of these systems. Before long, you can be sure that the use of smarter energy sources will become mandatory.
Technology, just as it has in recent years, is changing the concept of health and safety in building and design practices. On-site communications and tracking have drastically improved with the latest developments of smartphones, laptops, and tablets. The use of apps is even making it easier to monitor and approve inspections, as well as maintenance.
By staying up-to-date on the latest building codes, architects and builders alike can better preserve the safety of the property owners they serve, while also preparing for future market demands.
Your team at Neri Architects is doing exactly that. Contact us to learn more about how our cutting edge practices can be of benefit to your next project.