Why Pennsylvanians need to be aware of Building Safety Month

State's building codes lag behind those of other states, jeopardizing public safety; PennFuture launching BuildItSafe.org

May 01, 2013, 12:05 ET from PennFuture

PHILADELPHIA, May 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today marks the beginning of Building Safety Month, a national public awareness campaign led by the International Code Council (ICC) to inform people about the importance of building codes in maintaining safe and sustainable buildings. However, what most Pennsylvanians don't realize is that due to industry and political influence, Pennsylvania recently failed to update its building codes. This means that new buildings constructed in Pennsylvania over the next several years will not be built to modern standards, sacrificing public safety.

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When you enter a building, you assume it is safe and constructed to comply with building codes related to fire prevention, plumbing, energy use and other important features. To ensure your continued protection, the ICC updates the codes every three years to help assure new buildings incorporate modern construction practices. These updated codes are then adopted and incorporated by the states.

"In 2011, the state legislature passed a bill that essentially broke the system for updating building codes in Pennsylvania," said Christina Simeone, director of the PennFuture Energy Center. "Previously, building codes were automatically updated every three years, but this new law gave an unelected advisory committee composed of Governor Corbett's industry appointees the authority to reject the code updates. This is yet another example of this administration giving industry too much control over how it is regulated." 

"To help bring light to this situation and encourage citizens to take a stand for building codes, PennFuture will be launching a public campaign at BuildItSafe.org," continued Simeone.

BuildItSafe.org aims to inform the public as to why building codes matter, and how the building industry is  hijacking the codes. These codes protect Pennsylvanians from avoidable tragedies such as fires and structural collapse while also saving money through reduced energy usage.

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization, founded in 1998, with staff in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre. PennFuture's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state, and federal courts; advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level; public education; and assisting citizens in public advocacy.

The Philadelphia Inquirer called PennFuture the "state's leading environmental advocacy organization;" the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette named the organization "one of the 10 most influential groups on the issue of natural gas drilling;" and StateImpact Pennsylvania, an online collaboration of NPR stations across the state, called PennFuture "the commonwealth's main environmental advocate."

Contact: Elaine Labalme

SOURCE PennFuture