ASCE produces more than 70 standards, including its most popular, ASCE 7-22 Minimum Design Loads and Associated Criteria for Buildings and Other Structures, and its most recent ASCE/UESI/CI 75-22 Standard Guideline for Recording and Exchanging Utility Infrastructure Data.
And those standards all look impressive and substantial sitting on any civil engineer’s bookshelf. But ultimately, they function best when they are put into practice.
Ronald Hamburger, P.E., S.E., F.SEI, senior principal of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger in San Francisco, and chair of the ASCE 7 Standards Committee for more than a decade, talked recently to Civil Engineering Source about the continued effort to help put standards into practice, including key updates on ASCE 7-22’s adoption into the International Building Code and ASCE’s new Peer-to-Peer Standards Exchange forum.
Civil Engineering Source: Broadly speaking, why is it so important to take additional steps after developing the standard to ensure that it’s put into practice and accessible by the industry and public?
Ronald Hamburger: Design standards, like ASCE 7, represent the broad consensus opinion of engineers, researchers, building officials, and builders, as to appropriate minimum criteria to assure the design and construction of safe and economical structures.
ASCE revises its standards periodically to include consideration of new research findings, evolving design and construction practices, and societal expectations as to how structures should perform. Updating these standards assures they will remain relevant and useful.
However, until these updated standards are adopted into the building code, it may not be legally possible to use the standard as a design criterion, particularly if the standard results in a less robust structure than the requirements of the current building code.
ASCE and SEI work very hard to assure that their latest standards are adopted into the codes so that engineers can confidently use them in their work.
Source: Can you provide an update on where ASCE 7-22 stands in terms of the International Code Council’s process?
Hamburger: The ICC updates its model codes on a three-year cycle. Presently, ICC is in the final stage of developing the 2024 edition of its codes including the International Building Code, International Residential Code, International Code for Existing Buildings, and others.
To be considered for adoption into the 2024 IBC, ASCE/SEI had to submit proposals for the adoption of ASCE 7-22 in early January of this year. The ICC then held a series of hearings to determine which proposals will be successful or not.
In April, the ICC Structural Committee voted to adopt ASCE 7-22 as the basis for loading requirements in IBC-2024. Presently, ICC is accepting public comment on these and other actions taken by the committee. If public comments or challenges are received, the ICC membership will decide whether to uphold the committee’s actions at its annual meeting in September.
If no public comment is received, adoption of ASCE 7-22 will be automatic. This will make it possible for ASCE members, and all engineers, to take advantage of the new standard in their designs.
Source: ASCE has a new peer-to-peer standards community. What value do you think something like that holds for civil engineers?
Hamburger: As standards writers, we try to write the provisions and commentary in the standard so that its requirements are clear and understandable. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and engineers can be confused by both longstanding and new requirements in the standard.
ASCE provides a means to obtain a formal interpretation of the requirements of the standard. However, this process is often long and may not fit the schedule of typical projects.
So, the Peer-to-Peer Standards Exchange provides a ready means for engineers to reach out to their peers, including some of the experts who wrote the standards, to get informal interpretations as to the intent of specific requirements. It is important, however, to remember that these exchanges are informal, and while participants mean to provide valid information, the answers may not represent a consensus opinion of the standard’s developers.