Building Codes and Historic Preservation


The International Existing Building Code (IEBC) is the most widely used code for existing structures in the US. Options and requirements for historic buildings are sprinkled throughout four compliance methods that a design professional can select from, which are often supplemented by requirements from the Fire Code and Energy Conservation Code. One and two-family historic residential projects fall under the International Residential Code, which has no specific alternatives for historic buildings. This session will present an overview and approach to navigating these compliance methods in order to select the approach most appropriate to the conditions of a particular historic rehabilitation project. In addition, various codes and standards state that actions that would “threaten or destroy the historic significance of a facility” are the trigger mechanism for alternative design treatments. This presentation will discuss the specific use of this language in various codes and identify the administrative protocols, such as who makes the assessment and the range of technical remedies. Life safety, energy conservation, and accessibility codes will all be addressed.

CE Credits:
Jul 16, 2022 1:00 PM

Mike Jackson

Mike Jackson, FAIA is preservation architect in Springfield IL. He was the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) in Illinois from 2009 – 2013 as part of a thirty-one year career in public service. He is a Co-chair of the Codes and Standards Technical Committee of the Assoc. for Preservation Technology (APT). He also directs the APT Building Technology Heritage Library, an online archive of pre-1964 architectural trade catalogs, technical manuals and building codes. He was a leader in the creation of a historic preservation chapter of the Illinois Accessibility Code in the 1980s, which became a model for the ADA treatment of historic buildings in 1990.


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