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The Codes They Are a Changin'

February 20, 2019

By: Doug McCleery, Principal, MaGrann Associates

On October 1, 2018 Pennsylvania started enforcing the 2015 Building Codes with modifications to the International Residential Code (IRC) as proposed by the Review and Advisory Council (RAC).  In addition, the 2018 Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Provisions were developed as another path for energy code compliance for IRC buildings. 

Philadelphia is in line with the rest of Pennsylvania for homes built under the IRC (one- and two-family homes and townhomes), but chose to adopt the 2018 I-Codes for Commercial Buildings built under the International Building Code (IBC).  This includes multi-family residential buildings.

All of this can be confusing, especially on the energy side because multi-family buildings up to three stories are treated as commercial buildings under the IBC, but considered residential buildings under the energy code (IECC).  So, these buildings will use an un-modified version of the 2018 IECC Residential Code for energy code compliance. 

The biggest adjustment for Pennsylvania and Philadelphia builders, developers, design professionals and construction trades will be in the area of energy efficiency.  Increased standards for insulation, mandatory mechanical ventilation and air leakage and duct leakage testing in low rise residential buildings.  Optional air leakage testing for commercial buildings is now on the table, as is required mechanical system commissioning.


The designs, specifications and services needed to comply with these new codes MaGrann has been providing for above-code projects for many years. We are here to support our clients in making this a smooth and stress-free transition to the new codes.


We have created the following decision tree and website to assist you in choosing the best code compliance pathway for your next project.

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