ACMA proposed changes to building code approved

The American Composites Manufacturers Association's proposals regarding use of FRP composites in architectural applications was accepted by the International Code Council for inclusion in the International Building Code (IBC).

The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA, Arlington, Va.) announced on Oct. 6 that building officials from the International Code Council (ICC) on Sept. 18 approved "as submitted" the association's proposal to include language into the International Building Code (IBC) about the proper use of FRP composites for architectural products. Inclusion in the 2009 edition of the IBC shows that FRP composites are recognized as viable alternatives to other building materials for many building applications.

"The code change is the result of tremendous efforts by ACMA's Composites Growth Initiative and Technical Committee to legitimize the growing use of composites materials in building applications," says John Tickle, president of ACMA. "FRP composites now have a foot in the door and ACMA is committed to seeing that door open wider."

According to Nick Dembsey, chairman of the IBC Working Group of ACMA's Technical Committee, the 2009 edition of the IBC now includes ACMA-proposed language that sets the minimum requirements for interior and exterior architectural features made from FRP composites. "With local jurisdictions relying on the IBC for minimum standards, this paves the way for our materials to be specified with greater confidence and frequency," says Dembsey.

The ACMA first submitted proposed changes to the ICC in August 2007 with a new section that addresses fire performance of FRPs in non-structural architectural applications. The ICC's Fire Safety Committee voted to accept ACMA's proposal at its February 2008 meeting and then published for public comment all proposed changes to the IBC. All proposals and comments were then discussed at the full ICC meeting on Sept. 18, 2008, where the ICC voted to uphold its committee's recommendations. Now, for the first time, FRP composites will be included in the IBC.

"The next challenge will be for our industry to educate code officials and builders about the proper use of FRP and to broaden the use of composites in construction through continued cooperation with the International Code Council," says Bill Kreysler, immediate past president of ACMA, and a member of the IBC Working Group of ACMA's Technical Committee, which was responsible for proposing the language about FRP composites.