By Mike Ennis
SPRI’s latest informational bulletin (No.1-15) updates building code officials, specifiers, building owners, and others on code evaluations and product approval requirements for roofing products in Canada and around the world. The bulletin centres on the requirements as they relate to membrane roof covering systems.
The bulletin is designed to update building code officials on the various ways roofing manufacturers can provide evidence of code compliance. It zeros in on some practical options available to the building official or authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).
What is product approval?
The builder, specifier, or contractor must demonstrate to the building official the roofing product(s) they intend to install will comply with all the requirements of the building, residential, plumbing, fire, and energy codes adopted in that jurisdiction. In Canada, local building codes may refer to the International Code Council (ICC) for these requirements.
This means the building codes authorize the building official to enforce the codes and regulations that have been adopted through legislation for the jurisdiction in question. Most often, it is the manufacturer that provides the actual evidence of code compliance.
The specific requirements for roof coverings are contained within Chapter 15 of the International Building Code (IBC), and related sections of local codes in Canada. These requirements include weather protection, wind uplift resistance, external fire resistance, impact resistance, and physical properties.
There are three methods for providing the relevant information to the AHJ. Combinations of these methods can be used to show code compliance for a particular building. They include:
- manufacturer self-certification;
- listing (labelling or certification) by an independent third party; and
- code evaluation and certification by an independent third party.
Alternative materials and methods of construction are regulated by Section 104.11 of the IBC. The material or method of construction must be shown to be equivalent to that described in the code as to quality, strength, effectiveness, fire resistance, durability, and safety.
One method to establish equivalency in Canada is through a normative standard called Acceptance Criteria (AC), which describes the means to evaluate the product or method of construction for code compliance. A code evaluation agency can evaluate the product or method of construction and publish its findings in a research report. Any alternatives must be approved by the AHJ.