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City moving towards improved high-rise building safety.

The City's building code will turn 40 next year. As such its time to revamp our buildings safety codes.

New York City has proposed legislation for the city's new construction codes consisting of revisions to titles 27 and 28 and the adoption of a new building code, fuel gas code, and mechanical codes.

All portions of the new construction codes are proposed to become effective July l, 2008.

What is known as the International Code Council has voted to include NYC high-rise evacuation standards to be model for municipalities across country

For safety's sake, NYC is moving toward improved high-rise building safety in the wake of 9/11. The International Code Council (ICC) has voted to revise the International Building Code to include New York City's standard for photoluminescent path markings.

New York was the first major U.S. city to adopt photoluminescent regulations. In 2004, Mayor Bloomberg signed Local Law 26, requiring all high-rise office buildings more than 75 feet tall to be equipped with photoluminescent path markings as recommended by the World Trade Center Building Code Task Force, which was convened in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

The International Building Code will now include a similar standard for the installation of the glow-in-the-dark path markings in the stairwells of almost all new high-rise buildings more than 75 feet in height, as already required by Local Law 26 for roughly 1650 Class E Office properties.

Photoluminescent Egress Guidance Systems are designed to glow in the dark when lighting fails or smoke obscures overhead lighting. Photo-luminescent path markings enable people inside buildings to safely use buildings staircases in the event of an emergency evacuation.

ACcording to Patricia Lancaster, Department of Buildings (DOB) Commissioner, "As more cities move to build high-rise commercial towers, it is important to standardize the system of symbols and signage that help people find their way out in the event of an emergency ... "A calm, organized evacuation can save lives. With more buildings across the country using photoluminescent materials, building occupants will be better protected from trips and falls commonly found to occur in dark stairwells during emergency evacuations."

The ICC is dedicated to building safety and fire prevention. ICC develops codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt codes choose the codes developed by the ICC.

When New York City formally adopts these new Construction Codes they will have raised building for the benefit of the people who will be living and working in new buildings to come. First and foremost, the codes will take safety requirements to a new level--going further in fire protection, structural integrity, and construction safety than ever before.

For example: Sprinkler requirements will be expanded to residential buildings with three or more families, as well as those one- and two- family homes greater than three stories and attached two-family townhouses;

* Interconnected hard-wired smoke alarms will be required in all new residential units;

* Enhancements to the design of standpipe systems in high-rises will provide;

* Substantial in-house water reserves for more efficient firefighting;

* Wind load requirements will be updated to reflect location and building heights;

* Stronger connectivity requirements will be established for buildings to better withstand extreme events;

* Pedestrian safety will be increased by requiring sheds with scaffolding on top to be designed by an engineer

* Notification requirements for excavation and demolition operations will be enhanced so that interested parties, including the Department, are apprised of the commencement of these important construction operations

* Partial demolition operations will be required to comply with many of the safety standards imposed on full demolitions

* In conjunction with the new provision enlarging the current minimum 36-inch stair width to 44 inches in residential buildings that exceed 125 feet, the Department of City Planning anticipates proposing a zoning text change that will exempt the extra eight inches from the definition of floor area.

The codes will also help make building easier, faster, and less expensive: Materials and equipment that meet national standards will be able to be used without waiting for a separate City approval--saving time, money, and facilitating innovative designs.

The codes will be organized according to the ICC format, which is widely recognized by the industry as being more user-friendly. Up to date national standards will help eliminate redundancies and provide opportunities for construction cost savings. Department operations will be streamlined by allowing electronic processing and longer license and permit durations. The new codes recognize an affordable housing prototype that will facilitate construction of this needed resource.

Sustainability and innovation will also play a more prominent role in the codes.

Fee rebates will encourage sustainable building, including achieving LEED status, recycling demolition waste, using renewable energy, and surpassing the state energy code. To facilitate energy savings, the codes will require white roofs, which reflect heat and thus will help reduce the "heat island effect," and will allow both green roofs for cooling and to help reduce storm water overflow to rivers, as well as use of water conservation systems.

They will also provide more efficient heating, cooling and ventilation requirements.

The City's accessibility requirements will be updated for the first time in 20 years. New provisions in the codes will smooth construction of biotechnoiogy facilities (hospitals, research centers, etc).


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Comment:City moving towards improved high-rise building safety.(INSIDERS OUTLOOK)
Author:Lipstein, Evan
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 13, 2007
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