Code is Only a Minimum Standard

Nov 1, 2022DMA Engineering, Steven Forrester - Principal

Remember, code is the minimum and should not be accepted as the standard.

I recently hosted a podcast guest, Peter Ewers, who mentioned that his architecture firm uses a 12-inch wall as the standard in schematic design. With this standard in place, it becomes a given that the 12-inch wall is the starting point for space planning. If energy modeling later proves the wall can be less than 12-inches in thickness, then adjustments are not a big deal.

I can’t tell you how many times I have struggled with an architect saying that we can’t increase wall thickness due to spatial constraints. If original architectural designs simply included a thicker wall, and made everything work around that design, we would be able to provide clients with high performing building envelopes.

At DMA Engineering, we design with 2ACH@50pa as our standard infiltration rate and provide the required details to make that happen. Due to the ever-changing climate, we have increased our factor of safety for cooling loads from the adopted industry standard of 1.15 to 1.25. Code requirements are doing a really good job of moving the needle to make better buildings, but our industry as a whole needs to adopt better standards just outside of what code mandates. It needs to be stated that code is a minimum standard and building professionals must define what are acceptable standards. I say adopting a 12” wall thickness as a standard is a great place to start.

Now let’s talk about truss heels…