From lagging to leading: Philadelphia makes big changes to building code

Philadelphia is the first East Coast city to adopt the 2018 International Building Code.

Pat Loeb
June 29, 2018 - 8:45 pm
Philadelphia Building Code

Pat Loeb | KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Philadelphia, this week, became the first East Coast city -- and only the third city in the U.S. -- to adopt the 2018 International Building Code. It makes a giant leap in requirements for energy efficiency.

Pennsylvania virtually froze building code revisions in 2011 with a law setting up an advisory council that had to pass changes with a two-thirds majority, but a recent change allowed Philadelphia to adopt the latest code. Licenses and Inspections Commissioner Dave Perri says it takes the city from lagging behind to setting the pace.

"Adopting the 2018 code sends a strong message to the world and the world's biggest companies that Philadelphia is not afraid of innovation," Perri said, "is not afraid of change and is welcoming to new approaches to advance sustainability, efficiency and the safety and comfort of its citizens.

One of the biggest changes -- because it's been so long since the code was updated -- is a 30% increase in requirements for energy efficiency. Builders complain it adds costs, but Mayor Jim Kenney says it saves owners on utilities and, possibly, insurance.

"This new building code is estimated to save $51 million a year in energy costs," Kenney said. "Modernizing the codes will make commercial buildings safer and may also help drive down insurance costs. And higher quality buildings should make us more attractive to business and investment."

Kenney signed the bill Thursday.