By Dani Sheehan.
Building codes and standards may not be the most exciting topic ever, but every contractor and manufacturer needs this important information to be successful in their business. On season five, episode 47 of Roofing Road Trips®, Heidi J. Ellsworth sits down with Mark Gies and Dustin Haddock from S-5!® for a riveting discussion on safety and performance in the industry. Dustin is the vice president of research and development for S-5! and jokes that he has been with the company since he was a kid, his father having invented the technology in the early nineties. Mark joined the team as the director of product management about four years ago but has been working with codes and standards from the solar industry for more than 14 years.
Major gaps exist between building codes and current standards. In many cases, once codes are written, there are no tests or options provided to best meet the code requirements, leaving industry experts scrambling to find solutions. As Mark adds, “There’s so many different jurisdictions... [and] you could have two people sitting next to each other in an office and they interpret it differently.” Many times, the people enforcing the rules do not fully understand building codes, and treat “the code like the Bible somewhat,” making it hard for contractors to navigate areas with tougher jurisdictions.
Manufacturers play a really important role in this space. Mark explains the company’s personal involvement with affecting building codes in Los Angeles County, California. “Historically navigating through some of these tougher jurisdictions has been a free for all where... every adventure is a different adventure. He continues, “We as a company were involved in helping to work with [L.A.] county closely to improve and evolve their own codes,” so that individual issues weren’t popping up with each new project. Because each project has the potential to be so unique, S-5! ensured they were talking to officials, especially in some of the stricter jurisdictions so that officials could understand these nuances even though the code language doesn’t exist yet. “We brought the International Code Council in as well, created basically our standard test methods that we’ve been doing forever, but did it in such a way that L.A. County is comfortable with it and comfortable with the reports and we’re able to work with them on a specific level.”
This also requires that we hold ourselves accountable within the industry to ensure we are providing safety and benefits to the public. Mark confirms an earlier point Dustin makes about code adopting standards that are already in place: “The better self-policing is actually to take what we do and turn that into a standard so then it’s not self-policed. Then you have the standard that you can hang your hat on, and we’ve been involved in creating the standards.”
Dani is a writer for the Coffee Shops and AskARoofer™. When she's not writing or researching, she's training for trail races and working on her yoga teaching certification.
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