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Research Guides

Codes and Regulations

Government Regulations

When standards are adopted by a governing body they become part of the regulatory code of that body. These standards (or regulations or codes) are no longer voluntary and must be adhered to by the affected parties.

For example the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations is the codification of standards accepted and made into law by the U.S. government. provides a thorough explanation of  standards and their relationship to regulations:

Finding Codes in the UW Libraries

Many local (city and county) codes are based on these codes. If you are working on a project in a specific area, be sure to find out what codes apply to that jurisdiction.

International Building Code
Located in Built Environments or Engineering Library at call Number: K3538.A15 I58. Check the Library Catalog for specific years and locations.
ISBN: 1938-7679
Many local building codes are based on this standard code. Related codes include the International Plumbing Code, International Mechanical Code, International Fire Code. Check the Library Catalog for availability and location information.

Uniform Building Code
Call Number: KF5701.A39 I5, Engineering Library Reference, 1st floor.
ISSN: 0896-9655
Many people ask for the UBC but it was last published in 1997 and has been superseded by the International Building Code. We have a copy of the 1997.

NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)
The NFPA produces the National Fire Codes which is a compilation of codes, standards, recommended practices, and guides.

Our most current edition of the  National Fire Code is on the 1st floor of the Engineering Library Standards Area at call number: TH9111.N375a. Older editions are on the 4th floor at the same call number.

NFPA 70 is also known as the National Electrical Code (NEC) and our most current edition is located in the Engineering Library Standards Area on the 1st floor at call number TK260 .N3. Older editions are on the 4th floor at the same call number.

Building Codes Illustrated: a guide to understanding the 2009 International residential code

Call Number: Built Environments Library Reference (TH4815.5. W56 2010 ).

R.S. Means , Reed Construction Data  publishes a range of guidebooks for finding costs and using estimating methods in various phases of construction projects. These are located in the Build Environments or the Engineering Library. Check the Library catalog for details on a specific title.

What are Building Codes?

Engineers frequently encounter building codes.

What are building codes?

A set of standards established and enforced by local government for the structural safety of buildings. (WordNet Search)

Laws, usually but not always enacted by local government units, that set safety and fire protection standards. These codes affect the materials and methods used in the construction of buildings. For example, a code provision might require sprinkler systems in motel rooms.
(American Banker: Banker's Glossary)

Finding Building Codes Online

  • ADA Home Page
    The Americans with Disabilities act has many implications for building design and construction.
  • Building Energy Codes Program (US Dept of Energy)
    The program's mandate is to help states adopt and implement progressive energy codes.
  • State Building Code Council: Washington State Building Codes
    The Washington State Building Code is comprised of several different codes. Most are national model codes adopted by reference and amended at the state level. Others, such as the Washington State Energy Code, are state-written state-specific codes. The SBCC site provides links to the state-written codes and state amendments  that make up the WSBC. These include:
    • Building code
    • Residential code
    • Mechanical code
    • Fire code
    • Plumbing code
    • Energy code
    • Ventilation code
    • 1991 Washington State Historic Code
  • International Code Council
    Develops codes and standards used to construct residential and commercial buildings.This site is designed to allow you to view the International Codes, State-Adopted Codes, and various Archived Codes for free.
    Links to codes for many cities and towns.
  • United States Access Board
    A federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities through leadership in accessible design and the development of accessibility guidelines and standards for the built environment, transportation, communication, medical diagnostic equipment, and information technology.
  • U.S. Green Building Council
    A non-profit organization and the developer of the LEED certification system. Resources for green building.