Are Your Commercial Windows up to Code?
When you manage a commercial property, you are responsible for the safety of those who use the building, as well as its efficient financial and operational management. For these reasons, it’s important to confirm that the windows at the property adhere to industry safety codes. However, according to the nonprofit Building Codes Assistance Project, windows are the part of commercial construction that most frequently fails to comply with code. Here’s what you need to know about how building codes apply to commercial windows.
About Commercial Building Codes
State and local municipalities establish their own building codes. They are usually closely based on the International Building Code (IBC), which was developed to create standard health and safety standards across the commercial building industry.
The following information is a summary of commercial window building code regulations. However, it’s important to review your state and local codes to confirm any changes or additions. The IBC includes these provisions:
- Exterior doors and windows must be tested and labeled to comply with the North American Fenestration Standard/Specification.
- Windows must meet maximum permitted U-factors and solar heat gain coefficients (SHGC).
- Most sleeping rooms below the fourth floor, including the basement, must have an operable window or skylight that can be used as an emergency escape route.
- Window sills in apartment buildings and townhome complexes must be at least 36 inches above the floor when they are at least 72 inches above grade.
- Window openings must be fitted with flashing to keep moisture from entering the walls.
- The number of windows must be chosen to maximize energy efficiency based on the IBC’s window to wall ratio calculations.
- Windows must be strong enough to stand up to wind force based on your geographic location.