How Architects Can Ensure Material Performance

When you select materials and products for a building’s design, you plan on their quality and performance contributing to your project’s success. That’s the idea, at least.

In our recent publication on materials testing (you can download it here if you haven’t already), we navigate the guidelines that are used to make sure the products you specify are optimized for safety and function.

Knowing what to expect from a material means you’re better able to meet your client’s expectations and that you’re set up for code compliance. Here are some good next steps.

What’s Next: Which Standards Matter?

Maybe you already have a product or material in mind that you want to use in your next project. But you’re not sure that it meets code or how it should be tested for performance.

Code standards are set by a number of industry organizations. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), for instance, sets the standard for fire protection products and materials.

The International Building Code (IBC) contains a chapter that lists all the standards it refers to in the code. You can usually find out what standards and tests apply to your product by referring to this list.

To take this research even further, you could then check out the ICC-ES Acceptance Criteria for your specific product choice. This includes the technical guidelines and testing procedures that will confirm your product’s code compliance.

Start Reaching Out

Maybe you’re not ready to spend a weekend researching which smoke curtain will work best for your elevator lobby, though.

Like anything else, you don’t have to go through this process alone. The manufacturers whose products you specify usually have a department that can guide architects and specifiers towards the best decision.

They’re generally more than happy to answer questions about their product’s code compliance. Often it’s the manufacturers who will ensure that you’re using their product in a way that meets (or exceeds) requirements.

But it’s ultimately your local code authorities that will determine compliance. Consulting with them will ensure your design meets all of the appropriate requirements. If you want to modify a product in some way or use a new material, your local code official can help guide that process with you.

Be Confident About Code

If you’re staying on top of code cycles (there’s a new version out this year) and standard revisions, you should have a good feel for what changes are in the works and which direction the industry is headed.

Remember that you’re not going at it alone. Building relationships with your product manufacturer and getting to know local code officials will help you design more successful, code-compliant buildings with confidence.

Download our Guide to Specifying for Code Compliance

We researched and created a resource of everything you need to know to make your fire protection specification process more efficient and fruitful. 

Download Now