Reference Standard Development

Many technical aspects of the model buildings codes are addressed in reference publications developed by national consensus standards development organizations (SDO). These standards are not typically transcribed into the body of the building code, but are referenced in the appropriate sections of the building code. Product specification and testing standards are not within the purview of the Codes and Standards Department and are addressed by the Product Technology and Standards Department. In addition to the specific standards development activities, PCA manages the Concrete Technology Advisory Council (CTAC) to gain guidance from practicing industry experts.

PCA's primary standards development work is with: 

American Concrete Institute (ACI); American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM); American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) / Structural Engineering Institute (SEI); International Code Council (ICC); Masonry Standards Joint Committee (MSJC), The Masonry Society (TMS), and PCA’s National Standards Development Committee (NSDC).

The primary standard development activities are :

  • Structural – Minimum Design Loads (buildings and during construction)
  • Structural – Load Resistance Design (concrete and masonry structures and wind and flood resistance)
  • Thermal Performance of Buildings
  • Fire Resistance of Building Elements

Structural - Minimum Design Loads

  • Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures (ASCE/SEI 7) sets minimum load requirements and load combinations for buildings and other structures for strength design and allowable stress design. Addressed are dead, earthquake, fluids, flood, lateral earth, live, roof, rain, snow, wind, and wind on ice loads; weight of ice; and self-straining forces.

Structural – Load Resistance Design

  • Building Code Requirements for Masonry Structures (ASCE 5/ACI 530/TMS 402) provide minimum requirements for the design and construction of elements consisting of masonry units bedded in mortar.  Allowable stress, strength, and empirical design requirements are provided.   
  • Specification for Masonry Structures (ASCE 6/ACI 530.1/TMS 402) is written as the master specification and is required by the Building Code Requirements for Masonry Structures.  Minimum quality assurance requirements for materials; placing, bonding and anchorage of masonry units; and placement of grout and reinforcement are included. 
  • Flood Resistant Design and Construction (ASCE/SEI 24) provides minimum requirements for flood-resistant design and construction of structures located in flood hazard areas, including new structures and substantial repair or improvement to existing structures. 
  • Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters (ICC/NSSA) provides technical design and performance criteria that will facilitate and promote design, construction, and installation of safe reliable and economical storm shelters to protect the public. This standard is developed and managed jointly by the International Code Council (IS-STM-CC) and National Storm Shelter Association. 

  • Standard for Hurricane Resistant Construction (IS-HRC) specifies prescriptive methodologies of wind resistant design and construction details for buildings and other structures of wood framed, steel framed, concrete or masonry construction sited in hurricane prone areas. The standard being developed is a modification of the Hurricane Resistant Residential Construction (SSTD-10), formerly published by the Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc., currently referenced in the International Residential Code. 

  • Prescriptive Method for Design and Construction of Residential Concrete Walls is a guide developed to facilitate the use of concrete wall systems in the design and construction of one- and two-family dwellings. Prescriptive requirements are provided for both removal form and stay-in-place form systems, the most common of the latter being insulated concrete forms (ICF). 

Thermal Performance of Buildings

  • Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings (ASHRAE 90.1) provides minimum energy-efficient requirements for the design and construction of new buildings and their systems and criteria for determining compliance with these requirements. The buildings addressed in this standard tend to have larger space conditioning loads generated internally than through the building envelope or skin.
  • Energy Efficient Design of Low-Rise Residential Buildings (ASHRAE 90.2) provides minimum energy efficiency requirements for the design and construction of new residential dwelling units and their systems. The buildings addressed are limited to residential structures three-stories or less in height. These structures tend to have space conditioning loads influenced more by the thermal performance of the building envelope than by internal loads.  

Fire Resistance of Building Elements

  • Standard Test Method for Fire Testing of Building Construction and Materials (ASTM E119) is a fire-test-response standard applicable to assemblies of structural and non-structural materials for buildings, including bearing and other walls and partitions, columns, girders, beams, slabs, and composite slab and beam assemblies for floors and roofs. dv
  • Standard Calculation Methods for Structural Fire Protection (ASCE/SEI/SFPE 29) provides methods to calculate the fire resistance of structural members and barrier assemblies using steel, concrete, wood and masonry. These methods, published jointly by ASCE/SEI and the Society for Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE), are intended to provide equivalent fire resistances that would have been achieved in the ASTM E119 standard fire test.

National Guides

In many instances, information included in a national reference standard is first developed in the form of a guide. Guides provide design and construction methods that exceed the minimum requirements of national reference standards or building codes and may be developed by a national consensus standards development organization (SDO), other types of organizations not following an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) credited process for standard development organizations, or the Federal government.

Information that is included in guides and standards often starts with research, followed by papers and articles and then are introduced into some form of committee process. Portland Cement Association’s primary activities in guide development work are with:

  • National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) - The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that successfully brings together representatives of government, the professions, industry, labor and consumer interests, and regulatory agencies to focus on the identification and resolution of problems and potential problems that hamper the construction of safe, affordable structures for housing, commerce and industry throughout the United States. Authorized by the U.S. Congress, the Institute provides an authoritative source and a unique opportunity for free and candid discussion among private and public sectors within the built environment. 
  • American Concrete Institute (ACI) - The American Concrete Institute (ACI) is a leading authority and resource worldwide for the development and distribution of consensus-based standards, technical resources, educational programs, and proven expertise for individuals and organizations involved in concrete design, construction, and materials, who share a commitment to pursuing the best use of concrete.