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Thursday, February 16, 2012
IBHS Applauds Defeat of Hawaii Legislation to Abolish State Building Code Council
By News Release @ 5:24 AM :: 5287 Views :: Energy, Environment

Tampa, Fla. (February 16, 2012) - The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) today commended legislators in the Hawaii Senate for defeating a measure (Hawaii State Senate Bill 2696), which would have abolished the Hawaii Building Code Council and effectively removed the state from active involvement in building design and construction standards.

Current Hawaiian law permits counties to make some modifications to the Hawaii State Building Code, but there are both substantive and procedural safeguards in place to avoid inappropriate amendments and maintain an appropriate degree of uniformity.

“Building codes are intended to increase the safety and integrity of structures, thereby reducing deaths, injuries and property damage from a wide range of hazards,” said Wanda Edwards, IBHS’ director of code development. “This bill would have undermined key components that are essential to an effective state building code regime—components that have been reinforced by IBHS’ new study of building code standards and processes in other hurricane-prone states.”

IBHS submitted a strong statement and compelling testimony during Tuesday's hearing about SB 2696, before the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Government Operations, and Military Affairs. The Institute cited its recently completed analysis and evaluation of regulations and processes governing residential building construction in the 18 states most vulnerable to catastrophic hurricanes along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico. While Hawaii was not included in this report, the state’s residents are equally vulnerable to catastrophic hurricanes.

“Building codes are minimum property and life safety standards. The conclusions IBHS derived from our “Rating the States” report should be heeded in public policy relating to Hawaii’s building codes in order to protect the state’s citizens,” Edwards said.

Specifically, IBHS said Hawaii should do the following:

  • Hawaii should continuously adopt the latest version of the ICC (International Code Council) model codes on a universal basis and not allow opt-outs (except as delineated in current law). This is important for all risks but especially for wind given Hawaii’s vulnerability to hurricanes;
  • Codes protect occupants only if they are incorporated into actual buildings. Hawaii also should develop and maintain procedures for training, and certifying, and disciplining code officials so to provide a level of confidence that the codes are being uniformly applied at the local level; and
  • On-site implementation should be accomplished through contractor and subcontractor licensing, education, and disciplinary procedures.

“IBHS supports the current State Building Code Council and its role in maintaining and modernizing the Hawaii State Building Code,” Edwards said, “and we are pleased that Senate Bill 2696 and its companion, House Bill 2434, have been defeated.”

To arrange an interview with IBHS, contact Joseph King at 813-675-1045/813-442-2845, or via direct message on Twitter @jsalking.


About the IBHS

IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific research and communications organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting building science research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparedness practices.


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