The International Code Council (ICC) announced that negotiations have ended with the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) on a joint venture to develop a single plumbing code and single mechanical code.

A memo sent by ICC to IAPMO discards agreements made to-date and lays out a series of non-negotiable, major ultimatums that IAPMO must meet for talks to resume. The ultimatums cover critical areas of the Joint Venture: process, committee balance, base documents and ownership.

“Both parties were in agreement on key matters and a successful conclusion seemed only weeks away,” said IAPMO Executive Director GP Russ Chaney. However, according to ICC Board President Henry Green, “We made it clear to IAPMO from the beginning that the code development process had the potential to be a real stumbling block, and that we would seek input from our members and stakeholders before finalizing any agreement. Our entire organization has given extensive consideration to a hybrid code development process that would have satisfied IAPMO's desire to maintain ANSI accreditation. Ultimately our members and stakeholders made it clear that they were unwilling to deviate from the ICC governmental consensus process, in which public officials-who have no economic interest in the outcome-determine the content of the code."

A year ago, IAPMO and ICC opened talks on the development of one plumbing code and one mechanical code, through a cooperative effort. The goal of negotiations was to find a mutually agreed-upon method of code development while the two organizations would remain wholly independent entities. A single plumbing code and single mechanical code would put an end to “code wars,” ensure consistency and allow IAPMO and ICC to redirect time, energy and money to service and growth. ICC uses a code development process that permits any interested party, including consumers and industry, to participate on committees, recommend code changes, testify, make motions and vote. However, the process reserves the final decision on code content for governmental members, who have no vested interest except public health and safety.

On the other hand, IAPMO has an open consensus process that allows everyone in the industry a voice - protection against any one group gaining an advantage. A “hybrid” approach to code development was a feature of the Joint Venture, combining the best features of each organization's methods.

Meetings were held in November 2005 and February 2006 to discuss whether the organizations could agree to essential elements needed to create joint plumbing and mechanical codes. In May, both groups announced the points for a tentative agreement on certain key elements. In July, ICC hosted a National Town Hall Meeting to publicly share details of the proposed joint venture and receive feedback from ICC members and stakeholders. ICC also created an e-mail address to obtain input, provided information on its Web site and scheduled an open forum to discuss the joint venture at its September Annual Conference.

IAPMO remains available to resume talks. According to IAPMO President Chris Salazar, the organization is ready and willing to make a formal commitment. ICC hopes for the same. “Unfortunately, these goals cannot be accomplished within the context of the proposed arrangement. We remain hopeful that we can achieve them at some point in the future,” said Rick Weiland, ICC chief operating officer.