Building Code Update

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City Council approved the 2023 Lafayette Building Code.

On June 6, 2023, City Council approved the 2023 Lafayette Building Code. Approval formally adopts the 2021 suite of international building codes and associated local amendments. The key amendments are described below and included in the document library to right. The new codes become effective Aug. 1, 2023.

What amendments were approved?

View the 2023 Building Code Update informational flyers

International Energy Conservation Code

  • Electric-Required: One of the City’s priorities is to reduce the reliance on natural gas. This amendment would require all-electric construction for all new residential and commercial projects, with certain exemptions for commercial projects (large systems, kitchens, hospitals, labs, industrial, etc.)

  • Solar-Required: The solar-required amendments would require new commercial buildings 5,000 square feet or more and major renovations of buildings 5,000 square feet or more to have a solar system installed as part of the construction. The amendment will require that solar produce two watts per square foot of useable roof space or be sized to produce 50% of the building's anticipated load.

  • Solar-Ready: The solar-ready amendments would prepare new homes, major renovations of new homes, new commercial buildings less than 5,000 square feet, and major renovations of commercial buildings less than 5,000 square feet for future solar installation by requiring the installation of wire or conduit from the roof to the electrical panel and providing adequate space in the electrical panel for future breaker installation. This makes the installation of solar panels in the future easier and more cost-effective to install. The amendment requires that 40% of the usable space on commercial buildings and 300 square feet for residential buildings be allocated for the installation of future solar panels.

  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Parking Space Requirements: The City currently requires that a percentage of parking spaces be set aside for electric vehicle charging. The proposed amendment includes two changes. The first includes a more nuanced approach to commercial projects, installing EV infrastructure where it makes the most sense. For example, a gas station would not need the same about of infrastructure as an office or hotel. Second, multi-family requirements are proposed to be increased; this increase is in recognition that renters cannot install this infrastructure themselves, and installing after construction is more expensive for owners.

  • Cool Roofs: Cool roofs are made of materials (typically lighter in color) that reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat. Cool roof requirements are already included in the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code, though the strengthening amendment will bring the requirements into our climate zone in recognition of increased summer temperatures and the growing problem of the heat island effect.

  • Horticulture Facilities: The City is exploring a strengthening amendment to improve lighting efficiency requirements in indoor horticulture facilities. Historically grow facility owners haven’t invested in efficient lights because of the industry’s volatile markets and shifting policies. This amendment will allow owners to install LED lights and decrease their energy consumption.


2021 International Residential Code – Fire Suppression Systems

The code requires that residential structures install a fire suppression system (i.e., a sprinkler system). This requirement was introduced into the 2009 International Residential Code. The City has historically amended the code to not include this sprinkler requirement for single family homes, duplexes, and townhomes, but is proposing not to delete this provision with the 2021 building code update. This would result in all new residential buildings requiring a sprinkler system. Buildings with existing water taps are proposed to be exempted from this requirement.

What applies and where?

Topic
ResidentialCommercial
Electric-Required

What projects are impacted?
New buildings only
New buildings only
Requirements Fully electric with specific exceptionsFully electric with specific exceptions
Solar-Required

What projects are impacted?New buildings and major alterationsNew buildings and major alterations
Buildings smaller than 5,000 square feetSolar ReadySolar Ready
Buildings larger than 5,000Solar ReadySolar-Required
Electric-Vehicle ReadyApplies to new buildings and major alterationsApplies to new buildings and major alterations
Cool RoofsDoes not applyCommercial Roofs with a pitch less than 2:12
Horticulture Lighting No amendments - does not applyAny new horticulture facility or alterations/upgrades to existing lighting.
Fire Suppression (Sprinklers)
  • New Residential buildings, except those with existing water taps that do not have adequate capacity for the sprinkler system.
  • Not required for detached Accessory Dwelling Units where the existing primary structure is not sprinklered.
  • Would not be triggered by a home being used as a short-term rental.

No amendments


A Note about the Process

The City periodically adopts a suite of international codes, together referred to as I-Codes (e.g., International Building Code). The City is currently on the 2015 version of the I-Codes and is beginning the process of adopting the 2021 I-Codes. As part of the adoption process, jurisdictions routinely include amendments to the base codes to align procures and requirements to local conditions and to introduce strengthening amendments to advance specific community goals. The City is considering local strengthening amendments to the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code as part of the broader I-Code adoption that furthers some of the City’s sustainability, resilience, and building safety goals.

The City of Lafayette joined a cohort of eight nearby cities and Boulder County with the intent to adopt strengthening amendments to the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code that are consistent throughout the region. The cohort is also working to develop a common roadmap to achieve new net-zero construction and 100 percent renewable electricity.

City Council approved the 2023 Lafayette Building Code.

On June 6, 2023, City Council approved the 2023 Lafayette Building Code. Approval formally adopts the 2021 suite of international building codes and associated local amendments. The key amendments are described below and included in the document library to right. The new codes become effective Aug. 1, 2023.

What amendments were approved?

View the 2023 Building Code Update informational flyers

International Energy Conservation Code

  • Electric-Required: One of the City’s priorities is to reduce the reliance on natural gas. This amendment would require all-electric construction for all new residential and commercial projects, with certain exemptions for commercial projects (large systems, kitchens, hospitals, labs, industrial, etc.)

  • Solar-Required: The solar-required amendments would require new commercial buildings 5,000 square feet or more and major renovations of buildings 5,000 square feet or more to have a solar system installed as part of the construction. The amendment will require that solar produce two watts per square foot of useable roof space or be sized to produce 50% of the building's anticipated load.

  • Solar-Ready: The solar-ready amendments would prepare new homes, major renovations of new homes, new commercial buildings less than 5,000 square feet, and major renovations of commercial buildings less than 5,000 square feet for future solar installation by requiring the installation of wire or conduit from the roof to the electrical panel and providing adequate space in the electrical panel for future breaker installation. This makes the installation of solar panels in the future easier and more cost-effective to install. The amendment requires that 40% of the usable space on commercial buildings and 300 square feet for residential buildings be allocated for the installation of future solar panels.

  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Parking Space Requirements: The City currently requires that a percentage of parking spaces be set aside for electric vehicle charging. The proposed amendment includes two changes. The first includes a more nuanced approach to commercial projects, installing EV infrastructure where it makes the most sense. For example, a gas station would not need the same about of infrastructure as an office or hotel. Second, multi-family requirements are proposed to be increased; this increase is in recognition that renters cannot install this infrastructure themselves, and installing after construction is more expensive for owners.

  • Cool Roofs: Cool roofs are made of materials (typically lighter in color) that reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat. Cool roof requirements are already included in the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code, though the strengthening amendment will bring the requirements into our climate zone in recognition of increased summer temperatures and the growing problem of the heat island effect.

  • Horticulture Facilities: The City is exploring a strengthening amendment to improve lighting efficiency requirements in indoor horticulture facilities. Historically grow facility owners haven’t invested in efficient lights because of the industry’s volatile markets and shifting policies. This amendment will allow owners to install LED lights and decrease their energy consumption.


2021 International Residential Code – Fire Suppression Systems

The code requires that residential structures install a fire suppression system (i.e., a sprinkler system). This requirement was introduced into the 2009 International Residential Code. The City has historically amended the code to not include this sprinkler requirement for single family homes, duplexes, and townhomes, but is proposing not to delete this provision with the 2021 building code update. This would result in all new residential buildings requiring a sprinkler system. Buildings with existing water taps are proposed to be exempted from this requirement.

What applies and where?

Topic
ResidentialCommercial
Electric-Required

What projects are impacted?
New buildings only
New buildings only
Requirements Fully electric with specific exceptionsFully electric with specific exceptions
Solar-Required

What projects are impacted?New buildings and major alterationsNew buildings and major alterations
Buildings smaller than 5,000 square feetSolar ReadySolar Ready
Buildings larger than 5,000Solar ReadySolar-Required
Electric-Vehicle ReadyApplies to new buildings and major alterationsApplies to new buildings and major alterations
Cool RoofsDoes not applyCommercial Roofs with a pitch less than 2:12
Horticulture Lighting No amendments - does not applyAny new horticulture facility or alterations/upgrades to existing lighting.
Fire Suppression (Sprinklers)
  • New Residential buildings, except those with existing water taps that do not have adequate capacity for the sprinkler system.
  • Not required for detached Accessory Dwelling Units where the existing primary structure is not sprinklered.
  • Would not be triggered by a home being used as a short-term rental.

No amendments


A Note about the Process

The City periodically adopts a suite of international codes, together referred to as I-Codes (e.g., International Building Code). The City is currently on the 2015 version of the I-Codes and is beginning the process of adopting the 2021 I-Codes. As part of the adoption process, jurisdictions routinely include amendments to the base codes to align procures and requirements to local conditions and to introduce strengthening amendments to advance specific community goals. The City is considering local strengthening amendments to the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code as part of the broader I-Code adoption that furthers some of the City’s sustainability, resilience, and building safety goals.

The City of Lafayette joined a cohort of eight nearby cities and Boulder County with the intent to adopt strengthening amendments to the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code that are consistent throughout the region. The cohort is also working to develop a common roadmap to achieve new net-zero construction and 100 percent renewable electricity.

Comments

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I would like to comment on the Electric Preferred IECC code change. Shifting away from natural gas towards all electric is not a good option. Natural gas, up until the two past years when federal polices put severe restrictions on drilling/fracking, was a super cheap alternative, and a very CLEAN energy option. Switching to electric requires lots of coal burning, because the wind & solar options are not reliable & its not always windy or sunny. Current electrical grids throughout this county are already at their maximum load potential, as seen by the resulting shut downs during high peak demand. This need to push everything to electric will backfire. We need several energy options, not just electric based on wind & solar power.

I'm not sure why the City of Lafayette is considering these International code updates. Why not consider what is best for Lafayette residents? We don't need to follow International dictates when it comes to building codes in the USA. And aligning with Boulder County just because is another terrible idea. As stated by others on this post, this will only increase the amount of requirements on the builders & thus increase the price of housing.

SB1999 about 1 year ago

Re: Residential sprinklers:
The addition of residential sprinklers adds considerable cost to new construction which is counter to the City's desire for affordability. And it appears that the level of fire risk in residential homes is already low, so it would seem that current code mandated egress requirements and alarm type systems are far more beneficial to risk mitigation for the vast majority of homes. Not to mention if fully electric homes is on the table for the future that will further reduce risks due to lack of natural gas on the property.

jesse over 1 year ago

Thank you for the great work on this project. In addition to these goals, I would highly recommend considering 3 additions related to reducing waste. 1st, requiring all new commercial buildings have adequate space for recycling and composting bins in their outdoor enclosures and indoor spaces. 2nd, requiring all landscape installations and significant renovations to use locally sourced compost to improve the soil and increase water conservation. 3rd setting goals on construction and demolition recycling recycling and requiring new projects to recycle at a minimum cardboard, metal, clean wood, and aggregates. There are several successful examples of these policies in Colorado cities well as around the US. This building code update is an important opportunity to integrate these programs into the city's planning and building construction. Thank you for your time and please let me know if I can help provide examples or further resources.

kmbailey over 1 year ago

i think the overall energy improvements are a good idea. i don't think it's necessary to add fire suppression systems to houses. it's very expensive to add to any building, minimum cost of 30k to each building, plus another 15k to bring a water supply in. this is about life safety, not saving property. how many people actually die in a fire at a home? with integrated some detectors, egress windows and all other code requirements, houses are pretty safe . it's a big expense to put on to homeowners, for something i don't see as that big of a problem. maybe i'm wrong. i don't know the statistics of actual fire victims.

esilver92 over 1 year ago

1. Overall comment – The median home price in Lafayette is $690,500 (realtor.com). The median home price in the nation is $454,900 (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MSPUS). That makes buying a home in Lafayette 52% more expensive that in the nation at large. We have a housing affordability crisis all along the Front Range, and nothing in the proposed changes to our building codes is going to do anything but increase the price of housing. We cannot address issues as a series of silos. We must address them in a fully integrated manner. Right now, we have a problem with the price of housing, so we implement building code changes to increase the price of housing, so we create programs with taxpayers’ money to build “affordable housing.” Does that strike anyone other than me as being somewhat counterproductive?

2. I do not know what the city's commitments (“relying on renewable energy sources to generate all electricity by 2030 and reducing communitywide greenhouse gas emissions by 80% off the baseline year of 2005”) actually means -- and I do not think for a second that the City Council or City Staff does either.
• What does "…renewable energy sources to generate all electricity by 2030." actually mean? If I read it literally, it means that Lafayette will, necessarily, replace Xcel as the provider of all electricity for the city. I want everyone to think about what that means in terms of cost and legal folderol. I'm making that assertion because Xcel's commitment is to be completely renewable by 2050 -- so Lafayette is committing to be responsible for the difference for twenty years.
• If the intent is that Lafayette will (through some unknown magic) generate enough energy during daylight hours to cover nights and overcast days and then rely on Xcel to actually provide power at night/overcasts, we are being extremely disingenuous (glad my end of the boat's not leaking). Also, if every city in Colorado were to do this, it would mean that Xcel generates no power during sunny days and lots of power the rest of the time – that is terribly expensive and inefficient.
• If Lafayette is not going to rely on Xcel for power when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, is the city committing to building battery farms? Is the city committing to building solar farms or windmill farms? If so, where? It’s not like we have vast tracts of unused land sitting around.
• The costs of going 100% renewable before Xcel also includes opportunity costs. Since the city does not have an unlimited supply of money, each cent spent on achieving these goals is a cent that cannot be spent on other priorities. What are we not going to do?

3. I strongly disagree with the idea of joining a coalition of nearby cities and Boulder County in adopting new building codes. I vote for members of the Lafayette City Council to take care of Lafayette – not to be subject to the impractical whims of Boulder City and Boulder County. BTW, the previously stated goal of making code adherence easier is not something that benefits the residents of Lafayette – it may benefit various builders, or not.

4. I strongly support the intention to continue to allow builders and owners to opt for mixed-fuel construction. As renewables become cheaper and more reliable, builders and owners will choose renewable without the onus of enforcing some mandate. However, it isn’t clear to me how we’re going to enforce the “extra efficiency” requirement without additional costs that will, ultimately devolve onto the homeowner/renter.

5. With respect to horticultural facilities, I have a sense that there is some serious weasel wording going on here. I don’t think that Lafayette has much greenhouse horticulture going on – with the possible exception of growing marijuana (and I don’t know that such is the situation). So this seems to be focused on the one horticultural area what uses significant amounts of energy and water (water is, BTW, in increasingly short supply). While it’s legal to grow marijuana in Colorado, I see absolutely no reason why taxpayers should subsidize it. This in one area in which we should require the use of higher efficiency.

6. I would like to see the cost/benefit analysis for the mandatory installation of internal sprinklers for single family homes. The cost associated with such systems is not limited to the cost of installation but also to the cost of maintenance. I, for one, do not want sprinkler heads sticking out of my ceilings throughout my house. I’ve been a homeowner for 47 years and haven’t needed it – not do I know anyone who has. If you want to make it recommended, fine – let the homeowner choose. We don’t need a mommy to “ensure” our safety.

7. I find the poll somewhat disingenuous. There should be a for and against button for each question – not a single button that implies that I’m some kind of mean spirited troglodyte.

8. Closing comment – we frequently rely on grants to fund some of our priorities. That grant money comes, ultimately, from taxpayers. Current taxpayers or future taxpayers – whether it comes from the Federal Government or the state (which probably gets it from the Federal Government). With inflation (which will be around for some time) and rising interest rates, its not terribly clear how the city will fund these aspirations or what the immediate benefits are to the residents of Lafayette. TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) – somebody pays, and the residents of Lafayette are among those likely to be paying for these changes.

Guy Higgins

Guy Higgins over 1 year ago
Page last updated: 14 Aug 2023, 03:38 PM