THE IBC ADOPTS NEW LANGUAGE FOR ATTACHING LIGHTENING PROTECTION SYSTEMS ON COMMERCIAL ROOFS

SPRI, along with the NFPA members, Lightning Protection Institute, NRCA, NEMA, UL, NFCA, and other stakeholders from the roofing and lightning protection industry, have worked closely for the past several months building consensus to get language approved and adopted in the International Building Code (IBC) that goes beyond the existing installation standards of NFPA 780 and UL 96A. The new language clarifies how Lightning Protection Systems (LPS) are attached to roofing assemblies, roof coverings, metal edge systems, and gutters.

In short, the new language stipulates that LPS installations must be completed in accordance with the manufacturer’s or a design professional’s instructions, and where LPS components are secured to, or penetrate the roof, they must be properly flashed.

The new language, which will be published in the 2024 edition of the IBC, has been added as new subsections in Section 1511 ‘Rooftop Structures,’ and reads as follows:

1511.7 Other rooftop structures. Rooftop structures not regulated by Sections 1511.2 through 1511.6 shall comply with Sections 1511.7.1 through 1511.7.6.2, as applicable.

1511.7.6 Lightning Protection Systems. Lightning protection system components shall be installed in accordance with Sections 1511.7.6.1, 1511.7.6.2, and 2703 of this code.

1511.7.6.1 Installation on metal edge systems or gutters. Lightning protection system components attached to ANSI/SPRI/FM 4435/ES-1 or ANSI/SPRI GT-1 tested metal edge systems or gutters shall be installed with compatible brackets, fasteners, or adhesives, in accordance with the metal edge systems or gutter manufacturer’s installation instructions.  When metal edge system or gutter manufacturer is unknown, installation shall be as directed by a registered design professional.

1511.7.6.2 Installation on roof coverings. Lightning protection system components directly attached to or through the roof covering shall be installed in accordance with this chapter and the roof covering manufacturer’s installation instructions. Flashing shall be installed in accordance with the roof assembly manufacturer’s installation instructions and Sections 1503.2 and 1507 where the lightning protection system installation results in a penetration through the roof covering.  When the roof covering manufacturer is unknown, installation shall be as directed by a registered design professional.

“This is a significant update to the building code,” said Amanda Hickman, president of The Hickman Group, and SPRI’s code consultant.  “The current code does not address the impact that LPS attachments have on the roof. Any attachments to the roofing assembly or edge metal system can alter the wind load and performance of these tested components. It is therefore important that the original equipment manufacturer or a qualified design professional provide direction on the attachment methods to be used.”

The IBS 2024 edition will be published towards the end of 2023 and can then be adopted by states and jurisdictions across the U.S., and around the world.