Rather than having a single building code for the entire United States, usage has resulted in three major model building codes. States and cities have generally adopted one of these codes, often with amendments. The most important feature of the building codes for the on-site power industry is that in the absence of a life safety code requirement, the building code may be the source of a requirement for emergency power.
The three major building codes and their sources are:
- National Building Codes (NBC)
- Uniform Building Codes (UBC)
- Standard Building Codes (SBC)
The NBC is the most prevalent building code adopted by local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
It is important to consult the AHJ for code enforcement before installing a generator system as local regulations may vary and can change day by day. The AHJ officer can tell you what codes and amendments are in effect and what edition of the code or standard is recognized, if not the current one.
For Areas of Seismic Activity, designers of key buildings (e.g. hospitals, schools, fire and police stations, and multi-unit housing) must take into account International Building Codes (IBC). To obtain seismic certification under IBC, generator sets must go through rigorous design and testing procedures to ensure their survivability in the event of an earthquake or natural disaster.
In mission-critical applications, IBC-certified systems must be able to start and accept full-rated load immediately after an earthquake. IBC also states that structures housing emergency standby generator sets must resist overturning and withstand wind loads up to 150 mph.
- ASCO White Paper: Seismic Certification and Consulting Engineer
- Rolls-Royce/mtu Technical Article: Controlling Generator Set Vibration to Minimize Dynamic Loading in Building Structures
- Rolls-Royce/mtu Technical Article: How IBC-2009 Seismic and Wind Loading Standards Apply to Emergency Standby Power Systems