These standards provide design criteria to ensure a building is safe for a given level of seismic disturbance. Even where a locality doesn't require protection to a given seismic level, the courts are increasingly prone to piercing the corporate veil where a safety code "coulda shoulda" been implemented and holding the builder/renovator personally liable. You may need both the ISAT (non-building structure) and the ICC (building structure) codes.
No, these tips aren't free material from the standards. They are tips to help you avoid problems in applying the standards.
Examine the plans and identify the building structure and non-building structure items that need attention for seismic protection purposes. Obtain the relevant ISAT books for the non-building structure items and the relevant ICC codes for the building structure items.
Review the contract for specifications arising from seismic requirements. Note that these may be incorrect, insufficient, or missing. Sometimes the design firm makes assumptions, instead of determinations, about seismic location. Identify the needed changes and additions, based on what the codes and standards say.
Understand that seismic guidelines and standards are based on approximations and risk acceptance. There's nothing stopping you from exceeding the standards for a given area, other than implementation cost. It might be prudent to accept a higher cost and lower risk. Examine these factors with the client, rather than simply going with the minimum requirements. Discuss proposed changes with the insurer, with an eye to a rate discount.
Construction and testing methods can easily defeat seismic standards. Ensure fasteners are not re-used (a mistake made when test technicians unbolt something, such as a pressure transmitter, then bolt it back on with bolts that no longer have the same clamping power). Ensure all fasteners, including screws, are tightened to the correct torque value using the correct lubricant (if any) and correct torque measuring tool, with the correct torquing pattern. Ensure all torque measurement tools are correctly calibrated, stored, and used. Typically, all three of these are done wrong.
Communicate. Many people are not accustomed to implementing seismic standards. A work order or job instruction may say to use a calibrated torque wrench, but that doesn't mean the craft technician will use one. Talk to people. Hold training. Walk around and see what people are doing. Don't just expect things to be automatically done according to plan.
Review each phase of the project on a continuous basis. Just because something is in the specifications when the crews show up to start building or installing doesn't mean it's a done deal. People can change drawings (perhaps due to schedule pressures or budget pressures, but sometimes just out of ignorance) or simply ignore them and do things the "regular way."
No More Confusion
Two general areas of confusion arise in regard to these standards. One is the way jobs are sometimes specified or put out for bid. The developer may have overlooked certain requirements, allowing an unscrupulous competitor to bid on that job while you would have done it the right way from the start. By having the codes on hand and referencing specific parts of your bid to specific codes, you force everyone to bid on the same job you're bidding on--not a cheaper job that naturally results in your being underbid.
Another area of confusion is what exactly the construction and renovation code requirements are, and which apply to your particular project. Ask 10 different project managers, and you're likely to get a dozen different answers. The solution is to obtain and study the codes relevant to your project. This is much more efficient than trying to argue with an inspector or attorney after you've already completed work that violates one or more code provisions.
ISAT stands for International Seismic Application Technology. It differs from a standards assocation mainly in the fact that it's not a standards association but is instead a single company. ISAT produces seismic bracing products and and provides related services for all non-structural building utility systems. It's really a narrow niche, and it's one they "own" due to their focus in this niche for so long. So the company has developed a set of standards to help people protect these systems from seismic events.
Of course, ISAT would also like to sell products and services. But the manuals are written as separate products (which is why we sell them), not sales brochures. And that approach is also why ISAT manuals have such wide-ranging acceptance among engineers.
From ISAT's company profile:
Since ISAT’s sole discipline is the design of non-structural seismic restraints, we have gained a tremendous amount of experience and expertise, complimented by streamlined execution efficiencies. We are constantly upgrading our products and services based on changing building codes, changing industry standards and feedback from the installing contractors. In order to streamline our services, ISAT archives our engineering, details and solutions for easy recall.
This is the backbone of ISAT’S Design, Installation and Inspection Manuals. Each manual is approximately 600 hundred pages and is a comprehensive library of code specific seismic bracing solutions, engineering design tables, code clarifications, in depth installation details and inspection criteria. These design manuals are trade specific to each MEP & F trades. The ISAT approach removes the redundancy of engineering the most common conditions, and has become the standard for engineers that deal with requirements pertaining to the International Building Code and/or California hospitals under the jurisdiction of OSHPD.
From ISAT's Website:
International Seismic Application Technology (ISAT) is dedicated to assisting contractors, engineers, facility owners and project teams achieve code compliance in a cost effective manner. It is easy to see why the nation's largest contractors use ISAT for their most complicated projects. Find out why the industry's leading contractors, engineers, inspectors, and facility owners rely on the ISAT approach for stream-lined seismic code compliance. Take the fear out of seismic bracing and put ISAT on your jobsite.
The seismic restraint of suspended HVAC ducts, fire protection piping, electrical utilities and plumbing/piping systems for hospital construction projects has been a daily function of ISAT for many years. Although we have a broad range of project types under our belt, we are extremely proud of our hospital experience.
If you are involved in healthcare construction, you are familiar with the issues that compound the process. Highly congested hospital corridors, more stringent code requirements and ambiguous inspection influences all complicate an already tricky construction project. Past experience has proven a solid understanding of inherent issues and a good base knowledge of the seismic bracing code requirements by the entire construction and design team, can drastically streamline issues surrounding seismic bracing code compliance.
Who is the ICC? It's the International Code Council. The ICC says it's "a member-focused association dedicated to helping the building safety community and construction industry provide safe, sustainable and affordable construction through the development of codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process."
Why should you care? These codes form the basis for how construction must be done.
Many jurisdictions in the USA have adopted International Codes--sometimes in addition to other codes, sometimes in place of them. All fifty states (and U.S. possessions and many jurisdictions outside the USA) have adopted one or more of the International Codes, either with amendments or exactly as is.
Many owners (construction customers) are bound by International Codes, due to corporate policies--especially if the parent company is based outside the USA.
Code convergence is increasing. Other codes are becoming more like the International Codes with each code cycle.
Conforming to these codes, even if not specifically required to do by the local authority having jurisdiction, can make a huge difference in a liability suit.
The International Codes, if not required in your jurisdiction, can fill some "holes" in other applicable codes for engineering or design quality purposes. Thus, they make it easier for you to "sell" to the customer the right way to do the job. You have an authoritative basis for the "price hike" you are proposing over a less suitable design.
If you are not using International Codes now, you will be. Get in the habit of working with these codes.
Bonus! Now, here's a bonus for you. Suppose the state doesn't list a specific code. You do the work, something happens, and you are in court defending yourself against claims that your work resulted in an unsafe installation. There's no inspection report, because there was no standard required by your state. But wait. You did the work per the applicable ICC codes. Now, assuming good workmanship and good materials, the other party has a frivolous case.
Safety first. The International Codes, or I-Codes, published by ICC, provide minimum safeguards for people at home, at school and in the workplace. The I-Codes are a complete set of comprehensive, coordinated building safety and fire prevention codes. Building codes benefit public safety and support the industry’s need for one set of codes without regional limitations.
Federal applications. Many federal agencies (such as the Architect of the Capitol, General Services Administration, National Park Service, Department of State, U.S. Forest Service and the Veterans Administration) require work to be done per the the I-Codes. The Department of Defense references the International Building Code for constructing military facilities, including those that house U.S. troops, domestically and deployed.
Where ICC came from. The founders of the ICC are Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), and Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI). At one time, they each published their own codes. But in 1994, they established the International Code Council (ICC) as a non-profit organization dedicated to developing a single set of construction codes. The International Code Series subsequently replaced the codes previously published by these organizations.
Code Compliance Tips
Obviously, you need to know what the regulations and requirements are. That's why you should buy this standard.
As you apply a requirement, look at the principle behind it. If you satisfy the principle, you won't be subject to "interpretation revisions" being forced on you later.
To understand a particular provision, understand its context. So rather than look up a sentence and try to parse out its meaning, look at the entire code and how it's arranged. Where does the provision fit within this framework, and what is that chapter or section trying to accomplish?
Remember that members of all code-making bodies write the codes in respect to the laws of physics, and to the body of knowledge in the respective trade or skill area addressed by the code. If you also understand these things, then you will be able to more properly apply a given code requirement.
Codes are nearly always written as minimum requirements. You may need to go beyond the code requirements for optimum operational efficiency or to satisfy engineering requirements based on best practices. The codes almost never limit you from going beyond the requirements.
ISAT Seismic Design Manual, V1 (CBC, ISAT) provides the seismic requirements for distributed electrical systems and equipment. This includes raceway (conduit, bus, cable trays), suspended electrical equipment, light fixtures, terminal boxes, and pull boxes. 2007 ed More Info
ISAT Seismic Design Manual, V2 (CBC, ISAT) provides the seismic requirements for mechanical piping, HVAC, plumbing, and piping. This includes mechanical piping, ductwork, in-line mechanicals, suspended mechanical equipment, vibration isolated systems, suspended air More Info
ISAT Seismic Design Manual, Volume Set (CBC, ISAT) combines Volumes 1 and 2 to provide you with the seismic requirements for electrical systems, HVAC, mechanical systems, and plumbing. Save money and improve productivity with the combo set. 2007 edition. More Info
ISAT Seismic Design Manual, V2 (IBC, ISAT) provides the seismic requirements for mechanical piping, HVAC, plumbing, and piping. This includes mechanical piping, ductwork, in-line mechanicals, suspended mechanical equipment, vibration isolated systems, suspended air More Info
ISAT Seimic Design Manual, V1 (IBC, ISAT) provides the seismic requirements for distributed electrical systems and equipment. This includes raceway (conduit, bus, cable trays), suspended electrical equipment, light fixtures, terminal boxes, and pull boxes. 2006 edi More Info