BCAB #1754 - Alternative Solution for Noncombustible Construction, Sentence Division A

October 16, 2014

BCAB #1754

Re: Alternative Solution for Noncombustible Construction, Sentence Division A

Project Description

The project behind this appeal is a proposed multiple occupancy building combining noncombustible concrete construction and combustible wood frame construction that, under Subsection 3.2.2., would be limited to noncombustible construction due to its building height.

Reason for Appeal

This appeal does not involve the merits of an alternative solution but instead whether or not the

Building Code permits an alternative solution to be proposed for a provision of Division B that contains a defined term from Division A. Sentence of Division A states:

“Compliance with this Code shall be achieved by

a) complying with the applicable acceptable solutions in Division B (see Appendix A), or

b) using alternative solutions, accepted by the authority having jurisdiction under Section 2.3. (Div. C), that will achieve at least the minimum level of performance required by Division B in the areas defined by the objectives and functional statements attributed to the applicable acceptable solutions (see Appendix A).”

The Appendix note for Clause (b) states, in part:

“Where a design differs from the acceptable solutions in Division B, then it should be treated as an alternative solution. A proponent of an alternative solution must demonstrate that the alternative solution addresses the same issues as the applicable acceptable solutions in Division B and their attributed objectives and functional statements. . . . Therefore, Clause identifies the principle that Division B establishes the quantitative performance targets that alternative solutions must meet. . . . Clause makes it clear that an effort must be made to demonstrate that an alternative solution will perform as well as a design that would satisfy the applicable acceptable solutions in Division B—not “well enough” but “as well as.”

Appellant's Position

The appellant contends that the proposed alternative solution is to permit combustible construction within a building normally required by Subsection 3.2.2. (due to building height) to be of noncombustible construction. The requirement that this building use noncombustible construction is clearly contained within Division B.

Building Official's Position

The building official maintains that noncombustible construction is a defined term under Division A and Division A is not eligible for alternative solutions. Additionally, the building official considers building height and area limits to be fundamental principles of the Code which trigger the need for noncombustible construction and, as such, combustible construction for buildings beyond those limits cannot be proposed as an alternative solution.

Appeal Board Decision #1754

It is the determination of the Board that Division A and Division C are not subject to alternative solutions. However, the Code does not preclude alternative solutions being proposed for any provision in Division B (including Subsection 3.2.2.). Acceptance of an alternative solution is the sole purview of the authority having jurisdiction as described in Section 2.3. of Division C.

Lyle Kuhnert, Chair