On November 2nd, the final action hearings (FAH) for the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) will commence in Phoenix, AZ. Governmental voting members from around the country will help decide what the inaugural green code will look like. Well, those members who will be in attendance, that is.
At the 2nd round of public hearings in May, I asked International Code Council (ICC) staff how many voting members were expected in Phoenix. The estimate I received at the time was approximately 500, which I was led to believe was pretty typical. We do know that the ICC Foundation awarded 94 scholarships, so there will be at least that many government officials present.
Given that many state budgets are greatly reduced, with some states in a bankrupt-style fiscal situation, the ability for most government members to attend the Phoenix hearings is severely compromised. I suspect many would attend, if the funds were there. I know some building departments are understaffed, and the work load is such that code officials don’t feel they can spend a week away (including travel time). Since the I-codes are typically reviewed by jurisdictions for local applicability, there may be some building officials who choose to spend their time with it only in that setting, rather than go through the process twice.
Thankfully, the ICC started looking into the logistics of remote voting last year. The Code Development Review Ad-Hoc Committee (CDRAC) conducted “a comprehensive review of the Code Development Process (CDP) and make recommendations about any changes needed”. This committee published a final report on April 28, 2011, which you can download here. Here is an excerpt of the remote voting recommendation:
“Based on current research, Code Council (CC) staff suggests the CDRAC make the following recommendation to the ICC Board of Directors, as part of their final report:
CC staff should be tasked to present a work plan to the ICC Board of Directors in 2011 to implement changes to the code development process that utilize new and emerging technologies to increase member participation, consistent with ICC’s mission. The work plan will provide for implementation of new processes by the start of the Code Development Cycle that will lead to the publication of the 2018 International Codes.”
To help interpret this corporate-speak, I contacted the ICC for a more definitive answer. I was told that the development of remote voting is “in the works” and that remote voting “could be implemented any time before May 2015.”
So, sometime in the next 3.5 years, we’ll probably see remote voting. In theory, this could be implemented before the 2018 cycle begins. Given that the economy is not so great right now, but might recover by 2015, I would hope that the ICC would fast-track this implementation.
And, from an IT perspective, there’s no excuse not to. Just to make sure I wasn’t oversimplifying the magnitude of the technological requirements, I contacted the wonderful web team that did our site. Given the criteria of: unique user ID and PIN, one vote per user per motion, a time limit on each vote and a very secure system that would need to be accessed by hundreds of users simultaneously, they responded that it could take as little as 10, and as many as 50, hours of development work to get the system up and running, depending on system requirements.
It’s my hope that the ICC is able to offer this to their members as soon as possible. Forget about the enormous environmental benefits of remote voting for a minute. With state budgets the way they are, many are shut out of a crucial and important process. That shouldn’t continue to happen.
Remote voting is a good idea, regardless of the economic climate of our country. It’s need is merely underscored by the fiscal difficulties of our industry. Relief is on the way. Let’s just hope it arrives soon.