WASHINGTON — The International Code Council announced the release of its 2021 International Plumbing Code (IPC) and International Mechanical Code (IMC). Building codes play a significant role in maintaining safe and healthy communities, permitting more resilient, sustainable, and livable structures for generations to come.

The IPC and IMC are revised on a three-year cycle through the ICC's consensus code development process that draws upon the expertise of hundreds of plumbing, mechanical, building, and safety experts from across North America. With updates every three years, building codes allow for ongoing consideration of new technologies and scientific understandings.

“It’s critical for our codes to adapt to new building practices, technologies and societal needs,” said Dominic Sims, CBO, CEO of the ICC. “Our 2021 IPC and IMC take these needs into consideration and aim to promote safety above all else. Construction is ever-evolving, and how we prepare trades professionals matters more now than ever.”

The IPC is a pragmatic, apolitical, and technology-based look at the code that gives me a much bigger toolbox to choose from,” said Damon Premer, senior project executive, All Area Plumbing. “Instead of being restricted to one way of doing things, with the IPC, I have options and I can customize to the best quality for that project. The IPC gives me code proven ways to accomplish things that other codes lack.”


International Plumbing Code

The IPC establishes safety standards for health, safety, property protection, and public welfare by prescriptive and performance provisions for the design, construction, installation, quality of materials, location, operation, and maintenance or use of plumbing equipment and systems. 2021 additions/updates include:

•           Multiple-user toilet facilities to serve all genders are now permitted;

•           Two new methods for relining/rehabilitation of existing sewers have been added;

•           Accommodations for mounted rooftop solar panels over vent terminals have been added; and

•           CSA B805/ICC 805 Rainwater Harvesting Systems is now allowed as an alternative design method.


In 2019, the ICC commissioned a comprehensive independent analysis of the costs and savings associated with building under the IPC. The study found that over a 12-year period, counties that used the IPC saved $38 billion in construction costs and emitted 1 million fewer tons of carbon dioxide. The savings that resulted from use of the IPC contributed to national efforts to improve housing affordability.


International Mechanical Code

The IMC establishes minimum requirements for mechanical systems using prescriptive- and performance-related provisions. It is founded on broad-based principles that make possible the use of new materials and mechanical designs. 2021 additions/updates include:


•           Clothes dryer exhaust terminals are now required to be at least 3 feet from any opening into a building;

•           Polyurethane spray-applied foam on the exterior of ducts in attics and crawl spaces is now required to meet specific smoke and flame index limits;

•           Fire and smoke dampers must now be provided with approved access for inspection and maintenance; and

•           Refrigerant tables now include new refrigerants. 


The 2021 IPC and IMC are currently available for pre-order and will be widely available in print and digitally in March. Related provisions of the ICC A117.1-2017 Standard for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities will be included as a resource in the 2021 IPC. For more information, visit https://shop.iccsafe.org.