In January, the InternationalCode Council (ICC) celebrated the fifth anniversary of its integration with three other code bodies—the ­International Conference of Building Officials, Building Officials and Code Administrators International, and Southern Building Code Congress International—to form a single national organization set up to settle the standards for building safety and fire prevention. But 2008 is arguably the first year that the combined organization can truly be considered international, having considerably stepped up its activities in other countries.

The group is in the process of developing code standards for Mexico, as well as commercial codes for Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and other Middle Eastern countries. “We’re much better positioned today to do this” as a unified entity, says Richard Weiland, ICC’s CEO. He and Steven Shapiro, ICC’s president, spoke with Builder during the recent International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla.

The organization, with 20,000 jurisdictions and 45,000 members, still has plenty of work to do domestically, too. It is currently testing a program called Smart Codes, which if perfected would allow residential and commercial plans to be submitted electronically for zoning and land-use review. ICC’s involvement in this has been to develop the code-checking software, and it started off with energy-conservation codes. “This is definitely the future of code checking,” says ICC spokesman Steve Daggers.

ICC also supports a bill wending its way through Congress called the Community Building Code Administration Grant Act, which would provide $100 million in federal funds annually for five years to support hiring and training building code officials. Weiland notes that there are still “lots of places” in America without building codes or enforcement. Consequently, ICC is “making a big push to raise the profile of code officials” and its 320 chapters nationwide, says Shapiro. This year, the organization is launching its first focused advertising campaign—which will include public service announcements and TV spots—to highlight the value of these “first preventers,” says Daggers.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Washington, DC, Orlando, FL.