Washington D.C. has established the 2021 Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) which became effective January 1, 2021 for existing and new buildings. The new standards set requirements for a building’s Energy Start score or equivalent Source Energy Use Intensity (Source EUI) based on the property type classification. These standards are part of a three-stage plan to meet the new energy performance standards in existing buildings and achieve energy and climate goals stated in the Sustainable DC plan, which aims to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption by 50% by Year 2032.
This first compliance period, which start this year and ends in 2026, affects private buildings with a footprint greater than 50,000 square ft and D.C.-owned buildings greater than 10,000 square ft. Phase Two, starting in 2027, will require building greater than 25,000 square feet to comply, and the final phase, starting in 2033, will include all building greater than 10,000 square feet. Buildings that do not meet the BPS will be placed into a compliance cycle and will have the end of the performance period to comply to the standards or be subject to fines.
A guide to the 2021 BEPS can be found at https://doee.dc.gov/publication/guide-2021-building-energy-performance-standards.
Codes & Legal
Here are a few ways to get the most value from quality assurance inspections to make sure your next construction project goes smoothly.
- Review submittals and shop drawings– Have the quality assurance inspector review the submittals and shop drawings for the products that are to be used on the project. This will help the inspector familiarize themselves with the products to be used and how they are to be installed before the project begins. If there are any issues with the products submitted or the shop drawings, the inspector can address them long before the work has begun. Nothing delays a project like stopping work or redoing work that has already been completed.
- Mock-ups – Mock-ups provide the contractor with a trial run before the actual project starts and can be crucial in preparing for the project. Ideally, the mock-up will include some difficult or important details (i.e. window/door install, balcony installation, weather barrier/below-grade waterproofing). This gives the contractor the opportunity to install the materials as they would on the building and allows the project team to work through complicated details and get an idea of how the install will go on during the project. Spending this time early in the project can help get the team on the same page prior to the main project starting and prevent improper installations down the road.
- Pre-Construction Meetings – Pre-Construction meetings allow all parties to meet and review the project prior to the start of work. These meetings are a great time for different trades to meet and coordinate if needed. Also, they provide a chance for the Contractor to ask any questions or go over any complicated details prior to the start of the work.
- Meet with the project team each site visit – Meeting with the project team (designer, contractors, etc.) during each inspection can help provide a better product in a number of different ways. It allows the team to discuss complicated details, issues that the contractors are having, non-compliance items that the inspector has noticed, etc. It also can allow the project team to inform the inspector of the upcoming project schedule and any problems or issues to look out for. Communication is key. The earlier issues can be identified and corrected, the more time and money that is saved.
- Inform inspector/project team of any changes that have been made to the design – This keeps the inspector up to date regarding any changes made to the design of the project. If the inspector is not aware of changes, the work can be impacted. Often times, minor changes have to be made in the field to move a project along. Let the inspector know these changes so they are up to speed.
- Include manufacturer’s reps in the project – Having your product manufacturer’s reps involved in your project can provide a number of benefits to the project, with the most important being that added experience of someone who is constantly working with the product. They should know the ins and outs of the product and should be able to address complicated details or issues with the installation. They are a vital resource to have.
At the end of the day, most of these items are related to preparation and communication. If all parties are prepared and communicate effectively, you can handle the problems that will inevitably arise during a project quickly and efficiently, which saves valuable time and money.
A heightened concern over residential wood deck failures has become prevalent with the recent collapses in the DC – Baltimore area and with the arrival of warm weather.
Several hundred injuries occur each year due to deck collapses according to published statistics. So, this is not a new phenomenon. The Building Code and local jurisdictions have required special details for connecting decks to buildings for many years. Often a lack of flashing or poorly installed flashing is to blame as, over time, water infiltration can result in the decay of the wood framing hidden behind the siding to which the deck is attached. We have also seen decks connected improperly (too few fasteners, improperly spaced fasteners) or to wood framing that lacks sufficient strength. Proper flashing and adequate structure must be present to ensure a well secured deck for the long-term.
FEMA has published this detail in their Coastal Construction Handbook for many years, which shows a robust flashing system.
Unfortunately, not all decks have not been installed with proper fasteners and flashings. So, we will likely continue to see these collapses from time to time in the news. Montgomery County, Maryland officials have provided this checklist for annual deck inspections of residential decks by homeowners.
It is a good practice to make an annual inspection of your wood deck, especially if it is 15 or more years old.
Buying a home in a condominium differs in a number of significant ways from buying one in an independent “neighborhood.” Condominiums (in fact all community associations) have by-laws, covenants, and budgets, to which you will be bound as an owner.
An examination of the associations’ documents (especially the budget) is essential. Operations are obviously funded by unit owners and your share could be considerable. Monthly assessments can approach, or even exceed mortgage payments.
A reserve study should have been performed within the last three to five years and they should have been provided as part of the sale packet given by the seller. If not, be wary. In some jurisdictions (such as The Commonwealth of Virginia) they are mandated for specific intervals. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires reserve studies every two years for certification and they won’t underwrite loans for first-time buyers in uncertified associations.
Reserve studies can be difficult to interpret for the uninitiated. Nonetheless, there are things to look for.
- Reserve studies should be performed by qualified organizations, based on engineering or architectural criteria. Reports with discussion of the involved elements are preferred over simple tables.
- Most community associations fund by the “cash-flow” method, which should cover a minimum of twenty years.
- There’s no simple formula for funding reserves, but lenders have tightened requirements and may deny a loan if annual funding is less than ten percent of the total operating budget. There should be some discussion from the author regarding the adequacy of reserves funding.
There may also have been engineering studies performed to evaluate specific systems and/or investigate problems. Disclosure laws usually require that they be provided to potential buyers.
There are differences, beyond the obvious, between older and new condominiums. In Part 3 to follow, we’ll go over some that should be considered.
Before any rope descent system (i.e., window washing boatswain chair) is used on a building, OSHA now requires that each anchor be identified, tested, certified, and maintained so it is capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds in any direction.
Did all your anchors pass the test?
The OSHA set November 20, 2017 deadline for physical load testing of these anchors has passed. (29 CFR 1910.27(b)(1)(iii)).
Did you make the deadline?
We loaded anchors of many different configurations and found that not all anchors passed this stringent test. If you have any anchors that have not been subjected to this testing in the last 10 years, they must be load tested and certified by a qualified person before they are used. This regulation also seems to apply to new anchors that were installed after the November 20 deadline and not just older anchors.
Don’t postpone your scheduled winter or spring window washing work, get your anchors tested soon. Call us @ 410-312-4761 or 703-450-622o | firstname.lastname@example.org
Amid the 2017 hurricane season, we marvel at the images of the damage these forces of nature can inflict on our buildings and infrastructure. Wind speeds not only define the intensity of a tropical storm but also are one of the primary causes of damage to people and property. Taking a closer look at some of Maryland/Virginia/DC’s windiest hurricanes reveals just how significant Hurricanes Irma and Harvey were.
- 1954, Hurricane Hazel showed maximum sustained winds in Washington, DC, of 78 mph and maximum gusts of up to 90 mph.
- 1960, Hurricane Donna blew sustained winds in Maryland of 83 mph.
- 2003, Hurricane Isabel held maximum sustained winds of 58 mph and gusts of 78 mph in Maryland.
In September 2017, Irma touched down in Florida with sustained winds up to 115 mph and wind gusts up to 140 mph. Hurricane Harvey, in Texas, had similar wind speeds. These numbers are significantly higher than any tropical storm Maryland has experienced. By comparison, an even larger storm, Hurricane Andrew, overtook Florida in 1992 with peak winds at 164 mph and sustained winds at 142 mph.
The forces that hurricanes winds can apply to the structures around us is considered by structural engineers as we design buildings, renovations, and repairs. The infrequency of strong storms does not imply any insignificance to the designer, but rather the extreme forces that must be resisted. Building Code required design wind loads vary across regions of the United States based on the probable storm strength. In the D/M/V, we currently design to a wind speed of 115 mph and in Ocean City, Maryland the requirement is 130 mph for typical buildings. By comparison, Miami is in a 175 mph region and the Texas gulf coast is in a 150 mph zone.
More information on the history of damaging hurricanes, as well as the sources of the statistics in this entry, can be found in the following links.
Dust clouds created while mixing concrete, jackhammering or cutting concrete sidewalks, tuckpointing, and sawing masonry blocks will soon be a thing of the past. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will begin enforcing new regulations concerning worker’s exposure to silica dust on September 23, 2017. Silica dust is commonly produced when working with concrete, brick mortar, tiles, cement board, and many other common building materials. Long term exposure to silica dust can lead to the development of lung cancer, silicosis, and other permanent conditions with long lasting consequences. Because silica dust is so prevalent, the new regulations will impact many different industries including many facets of construction. Complying with these regulations will potentially impact, property owners, engineers, contractors, and other individuals, in many ways including the cost of construction work.
While there are many requirements detailed in the regulations, contractors will have to offer medical examinations to high exposure workers, implement engineering controls for silica dust, and develop procedures to limit the exposure to silica dust that workers experience. Depending on the circumstances and activity, engineering controls can include a vacuum system with a 99% efficiency for certain cases or water methods of controlling dust. Additionally, a HEPA vacuum may be required in certain cases and a personal respiratory protection device must be supplied to workers.
Building owners, project managers, and other individuals involved with construction need to be aware of the impacts that these new requirements can have on projects. Additionally, contractors may require cooperation from building owners and managers to be able to adhere to the new requirements.
More information regarding the requirements can be found at: https://www.osha.gov/silica/
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) has issued new regulations regarding “Walking and Working Surfaces, and Fall Protection Systems” that have changed the requirements and responsibilities for many building owners. Building owners are impacted if they employ individuals or service providers that utilize rope descent systems that are typically called boatswain chairs and most often used by window washing contractors. OSHA issued the new regulations as part of its efforts to decrease the number of falling deaths and increase worker safety.
Without completing the necessary requirements, building owners will not be permitted to use anchor points on their buildings. Starting on November 20, 2017, buildings owners must:
· Have their anchor points certified and tested every ten (10) years by a “qualified person”
· Have a “qualified person” conduct annual inspection.
· Provide written documentation to service providers that all anchor points have been certified, inspected, and tested as detailed in OSHA Regulations (Standards-29 CFR) sections 1910.27 and 1910.66
OSHA states that a state licensed professional engineer is best for meeting the definition of a “qualified person” that is required to test, certify, and inspect the anchor points. A professional engineer would be able to determine if the anchor points can support 5000 lbs. for each individual attached, if an adequate number of anchor points exist to use accepted safe rigging practices, and if the anchor points meet the applicable code requirements. Additionally, a professional engineer can certify the anchor points by conducting an in-depth study of materials, complete performance calculations, and review installation methods as required once every 10 years by the new regulations. A visual inspection can be conducted by a professional engineer to fulfill the annual inspection requirement.
Also beginning on November 20, 2017, building owners will also be responsible for supplying written documentation to all service providers that anchor points have been tested, certify, and inspected properly before work begins. Service providers, meanwhile, will be responsible for providing assurances that necessary formal training, inspection of portable equipment, and emergency procedures are completed.
It is important that building owners impacted by these new regulations are aware of their changing responsibilities and take the necessary steps before November 20, 2017. This will prevent serious liability issue for all parties involve and ensure worker safety.
More information can be found at: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/standards.html
A common deterrent to personal enjoyment in multi-family buildings is sound transmission. Often determining what is too loud is subjective and measured by the sensitivity of our ears. The Building Code requires that walls and ceilings meet an STC (Sound Transmission Class) rating of 50 and an IIC (Impact Insulation Class) of 50. STC is related to airborne noise like a television, speech, or music and IIC correlates to footfalls or a dog’s toenails when they impact a tile floor.
At an STC rating of 50, loud talking cannot be heard but load music can be noticed. We usually are asked to investigate sound transmission concerns in wood framed buildings when the thuds of foot traffic of the resident or their pet, above, is perceived to be disturbingly excessive. Many condominiums have rules related to the percentage of the floor area that must be covered by carpet. This is likely because most carpeted floors comply with a IIC 50 sound rating.
Manufacturers of products used to construct wall and ceiling assemblies have their materials tested in a laboratory with various combinations of framing, drywall, and insulation to determine the STC rating. To inspect a noise concern, our first step is to review the available architectural drawings to determine the intended design and the associated STC rating for the wall and/or ceiling construction. Then we will cut a few holes at inconspicuous places to confirm if the drawings were followed. Most people are surprised to learn that no insulation was placed inside the wall or ceiling and that many assemblies can achieve the required STC rating without insulation.
Products are available that can be installed on floors, walls, and ceilings to reduce the offending sound transmission. Installing these materials can be limited to sleeping areas to save cost and the amount of disruption that the project has on a living space.
Satisfactory remediation of a sound problem can be difficult. Our ears will perceive a reduction in noise by one half when the STC rating is increased by about 10 points. Conversely, anything less than a10 point change is hard for people to distinguish. Finally, any expectation that a once noisy unit located within a multi-family building will become “sound proof” or like a recording studio after remedial work is complete is unrealistic
Perforated PVC pipes used for underground drainage have offset holes drilled along the centerline of the pipe. It seems that some philosophical disagreements exist related to the placement of the holes in gravel filled trenches (i.e. French Drains). A review of installation instructions from several State DOT manuals reveals that the holes should be down (i.e. placed facing the bottom of the trench). The reason is that this allows the water to enter the pipe and drain from the soil at the lowest level. If the holes are located along the top of the pipe, then the water must rise to the level of the top of the pipe before it can be drained. In most cases, the purpose of these buried pipes is to collect water in the ground before it enters a building basement or seeps up through parking lot pavement, so it makes sense to collect the water at the lowest level available. Water will follow the path of least resistance, so once it enters the pipe, gravity will make it travel until it reaches the discharge point at the low end of the pipe.