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Puerto Rico gov’t to adopt new construction code by end of June

By on January 25, 2018

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico’s Permits & Endorsements Management Office (OGPe by its Spanish acronym) announced Thursday that by the end of June, a new Construction Code will be approved that will also address the island’s new climatic realities revealed by the impacts of hurricanes Irma and María in September.

The information was divulged during public hearings of the Puerto Rico House Economic Development, Planning, Telecommunications, Public-Private Partnerships & Energy Committee, chaired by Víctor Parés, in which a measure was analyzed ordering the revision of the current Construction Code through Joint House Resolution 243.

OGPe’s Health & Safety manager, Evelyn Moya, pointed out that at the beginning of this four-year term, the agency director, Ian Carlo Serna, determined a revision of the code was in order, which had been re-examined in 2011 and, according to an executive order issued that year, should be completed every three years.

The revision must be in tune with the practices adopted under the International Construction Code (ICC). Moya said two meetings have been held this month to review 2018’s international code and temper it to local needs. She also explained that around this time of year, the most urgent codes will be issued, such as for construction of new buildings and houses, as well as reconstruction or remodeling of existing buildings. Elements such as increased wind speeds and the fact the island is earthquake-prone will be taken into account, she added.

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The Housing Department’s assistant secretary of legal affairs, Joel Hernández, favored the measure in light of the destruction across the island after the passage of two hurricanes in September, which left 70,000 homes destroyed, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency data. Another 180,000 houses sustained minor to moderate damage.

Meanwhile, the executive director of the Energy Efficiency Alliance, Jorge E. Molina, favored the adoption of the most recent version of the ICC, and recommended that legislation provide an obligation to audit and inspect not only new buildings, but existing ones to ensure they meet the requirements of law.

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