EPI Impact Assessment: Implementation of International Building Codes

Georgia’s current building codes are outdated. They are a mix of Soviet, American, as well as British, German, and other European standards. The most recent are the seismic codes that were last updated in 2009, but they were mainly based on versions of codes from the 1980’s and need substantial revision. Soviet Construction Norm and Rules (SNIPs) are the most widely used codes in Georgia. But even SNIPs have not been updated for a decade. Although SNIP structural and seismic codes are used, there are no Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP), fire protection, existing buildings, energy conservation, and accessibility codes. Lack of knowledge; awareness; and importance of building safety, design, construction material use, energy efficiency, water efficiency, and operation and maintenance are contributing to poor quality, inefficient, and unsustainable Georgian building stock. Therefore, new and modern building codes are urgently needed.

Reforming the building codes will have a profound impact on the development of construction sector in Georgia. The implementation requires some initial investments that would be fully compensated due to the gains related to the quality of buildings. The consumers of the buildings will benefit as well because of the reduced expenses related to the heating.

The implementation of International Building Codes (IBC) will have important safety and environmental effects as well. IBC is an important first step towards implementation of green building policies that, based on experts’ estimations, will bring energy savings in average of 37%, savings in CO2 emissions by 72%, savings in water use by 40% and savings in solid waste by 70%.