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1.  Why did IAPMO enter the Product Evaluation Market?
The short answer is that we were asked, by industry, to fill a need. Remember that IAPMO is one national model code organization that did not participate in the formation of ICC. Prior to ICC, there were three regional model code organizations — BOCA, ICBO, and SBCCI — each producing evaluation reports to their respective codes. ICBO and IAPMO jointly produced the Uniform Codes. After the aforementioned three groups merged in 2003, there was effectively a single source for model code agency developed evaluation reports. About 7 years ago, industry recognizing IAPMO’s great success in the plumbing program asked us to enter the building product arena to provide an alternate source for evaluation reports. 

2. Of all the other potential prime alternate Evaluation Report providers, what made IAPMO the obvious industry choice?
1)    IAPMO is a model code agency — with public health and safety as our basic goal.
2)    Related Experience: For more than 70 years, IAPMO or its subsidiaries have been involved in product recognition in the form of listings or evaluation reports.
3)    Current Success: IAPMO R&T is an industry leader in plumbing and mechanical product recognition worldwide, and operates a plumbing and mechanical product listing program almost twice the size of any other.
4)    Passion: We work hard to bring the same drive, determination and great customer service into the building arena that made IAPMO R&T’s listing program such a great success.
5)    IAPMO’s History and Shared Legacy: Code officials from the city of Los Angeles and others jurisdictions were the driving force behind the formation of both IAPMO and the former ICBO. IAPMO and the former ICBO partnered together to produce the Uniform Family of Codes for many years.

3. What steps did IAPMO take to enter this market?
1)    Formed IAPMO ES a wholly owned subsidiary.
2)    Hired experienced staff. To see our staff bios, please click here.
3)    Selected industry expert Professional Engineers to serve as contractors for the initial review.  This action allows us to minimize time spent ramping up for a review.  
4)    IAPMO ES gained ISO/IEC 17065 Accreditation from ANSI (to see our certificate, click here)
5)    Developed a mechanism to produce its own evaluation criteria.

4. What are Uniform Evaluation Reports?
The purpose for Uniform Evaluation Reports (UER) is to document compliance with particular code(s) and their referenced standard(s). Sometimes performance requirements for new products are not yet in the code, so these products are evaluated under the IBC, Chapter 1, Section 104.11, on alternate materials, design and methods of construction and equipment, in which case evaluation or acceptance criteria are often developed through a public process to maintain a fair and level playing field for manufacturers of these products. This is done on a manufacturer-by-manufacturer basis. A UER documents compliance of a manufacturer’s product, material or component to the referenced code. This recommendation for code approval is contingent on the scope of evaluation and the conditions of use included in the report. 

5. How does IAPMO Uniform Evaluation Service Issue Evaluation Reports?
The process for all certification bodies is standardized in accordance with ISO/IEC 17065 — General Requirements for Bodies Operating Product Certification Systems, and with IBC Sections 104 and 1703.

The process starts with a phone call and an application. Laboratories recognized to the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025 test the products. Having an evaluation report being trusted by others starts with using trusted laboratories to do the work. We work with the laboratories of your choice, provided they are A2LA, NVLAP, ACLASS, SCC or IAS accredited. Qualified engineers in a variety of disciplines analyze the test reports resulting from such testing as well as drawings and other supporting information. Simultaneously with the review above, the manufacturer’s Quality Assurance systems are also reviewed to ensure compliance to ES requirements as listed here. When all relevant data has been attained, our volunteer committee of relevant code experts reviews such information against the specific codes before issuance of the evaluation report.

We target generating our reports in less than 120 days.

6. What makes your Evaluation Program unique?
a. UES is qualified to perform product evaluations
    1. ISO/IEC 17065 compliant by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
    2. 2012 IBC Section 104.11 and 1703 compliant
b. Our evaluation scheme is designed to minimize learning curves and the money they often cost applicants. Uniform ES engages expert professional engineers as contractors (with noted expertise in given product classifications) to perform the initial review of data. Then a second review is performed by one of our in-house professional engineers. Our Technical Director, Brian Gerber, PE, SE, then submits the report to our Technical Committee (consisting of professional engineers) for the final decision on certification.   
c. Our evaluation scheme allows the use of properly accredited agencies for surveillance and testing as discussed in FAQ No. 7.
d. UES has everything that the other guys have and a few things they don’t: Richard Beck, PE, CBO, MCP – director; Brian Gerber PE, SE – UES technical director; Michael Merrigan, PE, Esq – senior engineer; and Bart Berneche, PE – senior engineer.

7. What is the IAPMO UES position on the use of Third Party Inspection and Testing agencies under the upcoming transition from ISO/IEC Guide 65 to ISO/IEC 17065?
Everywhere you go in the model code business you see relationships. IAPMO UES respects business relationships and offers choices. IAPMO UES is an ISO/IEC 17065 accredited Conformity Assessment Body, and chooses not to collect your testing or inspection expenses and then reimburse your service provider. Report holders in our program may contract for these services directly.

Testing Laboratories: Manufacturers may select testing laboratories for their projects and contract directly with them as long as it meets the following rules: In accordance with our procedures, the testing laboratory shall be accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 by an ILAC MRA signatory accreditation body. The testing laboratory’s scope of accreditation must specifically include the scope of testing to be provided.  The testing laboratory shall enter into a contract with IAPMO UES, if it has not previously done so, guaranteeing, amongst other things, adherence to IAPMO ES procedures on Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest. This way business can and will be pretty much conducted as it always has. Thus, manufacturers will continue to have choices in the IAPMO UES program.   

Inspection Bodies: Manufacturers may select an inspection agency for their projects and contract directly with them as long as it meets the following rules: In accordance with our procedures, the inspection body shall be accredited to ISO/IEC 17020 by an ILAC MRA signatory accreditation body. The inspection body’s scope of accreditation must specifically include the scope of inspection to be provided.  The inspection body shall enter into a legally binding contract with IAPMO UES, if it has not previously done so, guaranteeing, amongst other things, adherence to IAPMO ES procedures on Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest. This way business can and will be pretty much conducted as it always has. Thus, manufacturers will continue to have choices in the IAPMO UES program.

Don’t break up your relationships, choose IAPMO Uniform Evaluation Service.

8. A short time ago IAPMO-ES changed its name to Uniform Evaluation Service – please tell us more about that. 
Please see our press release on this subject (click here).

9. How are evaluation reports used?
Evaluation reports are useful to everyone. Evaluation reports help contractors with sales when the customer wants the latest innovations, manufacturers with product approvals, and building departments that are not staffed to undertake the time burden required to evaluate all the building components they see every day. (See the left sidebar for Code Officials, Manufacturers, Design Builders and Consumers.) According to ISO/IEC 17065 requirements, an evaluation report must be current (not expired) and posted to the Uniform Evaluation Service online directory to be valid. An evaluation report documents a professional position based on the issuer’s technical assessment that the product or system meets the applicable code prescriptive requirements, and/or is a suitable alternate to that which is allowed by the code. The evaluation report is intended to help determine whether the product complies with the building code. This speeds up the acceptance of products by the construction regulators. Architects, engineers, contractors, specifiers, and others in the building industry who have an interest in making sure products and systems meet building-code requirements also rely on these product evaluation tools in making product choices.

10. How do I know if a report is still valid? 
All current evaluation reports are displayed on the IAPMO Uniform ES website.

11. How long does it take to get a Uniform ES Evaluation Report?
Well, that depends a lot on your submittal and the complexity of the code issues with your product. If the data is well organized, our staff has issued reports in as little as 40 days, but most are issued within three months. Everything depends on how quickly you can respond to our questions and requests for additional information. Our department goal is to respond to submittals in less than two weeks. Scheduling the factory inspection may affect the report’s effective date.

12. Does UES charge “carry on listing” fees?
IAPMO’s Uniform Evaluation Service does not charge “further-study” fees. If for some reason a report is delayed, we don’t make additional money. Our fee schedule is posted; to see it click here.

13. What are Evaluation Criteria?
Product or Product Category Evaluation Criteria are developed when a manufacturer submits a new technology or innovation that has not been addressed in the model codes. These alternative products often represent the future of product development, and existing product criteria or standards do not fit the nature of the product. In some cases like this, Evaluation Criteria are developed to create a level playing field for manufacturers entering the market. Criteria are developed through a robust public review process, including a final vote by a committee of code officials. These criteria keep the product evaluations relevant to the needs of the consumers and the construction industry. 

14. How and why do you develop acceptance criteria? 
We develop criteria only when absolutely necessary. Whenever possible, we use the actual code requirements or existing criteria on which to base our recommendation of code acceptance. 

Acceptance Criteria are usually prepared prior to writing evaluation reports and are the basis for most ERs. The term “Acceptance Criteria” (AC) is used herein as the generic term for criteria. IAPMO Uniform ES refers to it as Evaluation Criteria. AC is a document that states the requirements to which a product is to be evaluated in order to demonstrate code compliance. Most new and innovative products require development of an AC for their proper evaluation under the provisions of Section 104.11 of the International Building Code (IBC).

15. Why don’t you always develop your own criteria?
The development of criteria is expensive and time consuming, but we do it when absolutely necessary. Our overriding goal, however, is to provide the best value to our clients and we contend that the use of existing criteria, whenever possible, is the most prudent use of our clients’ resources.

SEOAC white paper recommends all product evaluators follow the same criteria. Evaluation or acceptance criterion are developed with significant industry input and not based on a singular opinion. Evaluation of similar products to the same AC provides a more consistent level of documentation and review, reduces of the number of interpretations of code intent, and improves consistency.

Evaluation to multiple competing criteria increases the likelihood of disparity in degree and depth of evaluation of the product. Some have even offered that it is better for all product evaluations to use a singular AC rather than forcing the industry to determine which AC may be better in determining a product’s code compliance.

Our criteria are available on our website, free of charge, at click here.

16. How do I submit a complaint or appeal?
Please submit your concern via e-mail at info@uniform-es.org. One of our staff will contact you with additional information on our procedure for handling complaint/appeal.