Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
March 2004
Economic Growth and the Role of Safety in Our Built Environment
A recent report filed by the National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards, Inc. (NCSBCS) stated that our nationís construction industry represents one of the largest segments of our economy. Over 70 percent of our national wealth is in buildings. This industry stimulates the nationís economy and it shelters people where they live, work and play.

To help assure the economic viability of our nation and provide adequate public safety, the building regulatory system that oversees construction must be both effective and efficient. Over 44,000 jurisdictions adopt and enforce building codes in this nation, protecting and serving over 95 percent of our population and regulating our nationís $1.1-trillion domestic building construction industry. Where they are effective and efficient, construction regulatory systems promote public safety, affordability, quality, and disaster resistance of new and existing buildings.

Recognizing those same values in our state, Commerceís Safety and Buildings Division continues to support a number of initiatives geared toward an effective and efficient construction regulatory system. A comprehensive regulatory system allows business leaders, designers, suppliers and builders greater opportunity to contribute to Wisconsinís economic growth.

For 90 years, Wisconsin maintained its own commercial building code. Effective July 2002, the state adopted a new system, a set of model codes from the International Code Council (ICC). Key elements to the adoption were minimizing the number of amendments, providing early introduction and training, and maintaining a support network for all end users. Through the ICCís building, energy, mechanical and fuel gas codes, Wisconsin continues to improve on standard building regulations.

The Safety and Buildings Division continues to support municipalities requesting agent status because local administration can add efficiencies. Wisconsin has a 30-year history of delegating municipalities as agents of the state. Over 150 municipalities serve in this capacity and administer the Wisconsin Commercial Building Code. This program gives local municipalities the opportunity to take on the role of plan examination and inspection on behalf of the state. This delegation allows commercial building owners to work exclusively with the local building officials. The division strives for consistent application through support and audits of those delegated municipalities.

Based on the premise of education before enforcement, the Safety and Buildings Division continues to provide training in the Wisconsin Commercial Building Code at various levels in seminars and structured classes. The division also performs internal and external audits of the plan examination process to maintain effective regulation. Internal audits focus on Department of Commerce review staff where as external audits evaluate the performance of delegated agent municipalities.

As a result of those efforts, Wisconsin has taken great strides toward being one of the leaders in building regulations.

The economic value that owners as well as their representing designers and builders can realize by understanding the regulations before a single line is drawn or brick is laid is the mark of a successful program. For more information regarding any of the programs offered by the Department of Commerce Division of Safety and Buildings, contact Henry Kosarzycki at (262) 548-8615.

--Henry Kosarzycki

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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