Lawmakers reconsider process for updating Pa. construction codes

     (AP Photo, file)

    (AP Photo, file)

    Pennsylvania’s process for updating the rules for building construction has changed under the Corbett administration, leading to the rejection of the most recent round of suggested updates.

    Now, lawmakers are considering whether to change the process back.

    The law, signed by Gov. Tom Corbett in his first year in office, led a state commission to reject every building code model suggested by an international council of experts.

    The codes contain things such as additional safety and energy efficiency requirements; in the past, they’ve been adopted every three years.

    Shari Shapiro, a lawyer with Cozen O’Connor, lobbies for electricians and the renewable energy industry — groups that have an interest in seeing building codes updated regularly.

    If Pennsylvania isn’t updating its codes as the new models are available, the state isn’t benefiting from the experience of those who have studied building disasters, she said.

    “So, for example, after 9/11, later versions of the code after that incorporated different requirements for fire safety and exits and so forth in high-rise buildings,” she said.

    State lawmakers are taking a look at going back to past practices for adopting new building codes.

    One proposal would ease the process of adopting code updates for all but residential builders, who have fought code updates in the past, citing higher costs.

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