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Office of Facilities Planning
Newsletter #37 March 2003


Minimum Temperature in Schools
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The new "Property Maintenance Code of New York State", section 602.4 for "Occupiable work spaces", requires that "indoor occupiable work spaces be supplied with heat during the period from September 15th to May 31st to maintain a temperature of not less than 65F (18C) during the period the spaces are occupied." The only exceptions are for processing spaces (coolers or freezers) and vigorous physical activities areas (Gymnasiums). This is a change in mandated operating requirements.

January 1, 2003 the Property Maintenance Code of New York State, based on the 2000 ICC International Codes became effective as part of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention Building Code of New York. This new 8 volume series of Building Codes applies to all buildings in New York State outside of New York City. The many sections of the new Code each have items that will impact how districts run and maintain their buildings.

The new Codebooks are available on the IBC web site at:

http://www.icbo.org/Code_Talk/Adoptions/ny-codes.html. These Codes may also be purchased in electronic format. Be sure that you purchase the New York State version, there are many state specific enhancements added to the 2000 ICC International Codes.

Mold in School Facilities
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Excess moisture can result in mold growth. Mold often plays a part in poor indoor air quality, however mold growth may not be obvious. Deferred maintenance, building envelope changes, energy conservation measures, and unplanned changes to building fresh air requirements must be investigated. Some signs of excess moisture are fogged windows, water stains, and musty smells. If signs of moisture are noticed, a prompt response can save enormous sums of money. In addition to the dollars saved, an improved building environment may lower absenteeism, and raise the credibility of management with staff and students. The following outlines some of the circumstances that may lead to excess moisture.

These problems are surfacing at an alarming rate. Schools are faced with major repair expenses and even evacuation of areas when mold is detected. Public school design professional and facilities staff must recognize and address potential mold situations before problems develop. The community is becoming more aware of, and vulnerable, to mold-related problems.

The Health and Safety Committee required per 8NYCRR155 should be involved in the investigation of building complaints. This committee can track problems, maintain communication with the community, and help develop specific solutions to facilities operations and maintenance issues. For detailed information, see the following EPA documents:

Using the International Building Code:

For new construction corridor walls and classroom doors are normally required to be fire-rated. In a sprinklered building, where the entire building is sprinklered, the new code allows corridor walls to be non-fire rated. The Manual of Planning Standards, S106-3, requires fire rated doors for all corridor doors except classrooms. From now on if the entire building is sprinklered, SED will allow the corridor doors to be non-rated as long as each door has a closer without a non-automatic hold open device. Even though the walls are not required to be fire-rated, SED will require a smoke barrier separating the corridor and adjacent rooms. If the building is not sprinklered, all the corridor walls and doors will be required to be fire-rated, including classroom doors.

Any building or addition built after 1984 required door closers on all doors opening onto a corridor. If closers were removed or omitted, or hold open devices installed (with the exception of automatic) they are illegal. If the occupants want a corridor door held open, it must be held open by a magnetic door holder that is connected into the fire alarm system.

Buildings build before 1984 are considered pre-existing non-conforming and are not required to have closers on corridor doors. However, if the doors are being replaced the new doors are required to have closers.

In any instance, WOOD WEDGES HOLDING CORRIDOR DOORS OPEN ARE NEVER ALLOWED. No matter who is using them, they should always be removed and never replaced. Please note that a door closer is a safety device that is intended to help protect the corridor escape route from becoming smoke filled. Installing a wood wedge in a door to override the closer could be considered a willful act to defeat a safety device. The intent of the MPS is safe and quick exiting.

An Index of our Newsletters is available on our web site at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/facplan/NewsLetters.htm.

If you would like to have this Newsletter sent directly to you by e-mail, please send your e-mail address to Joe Levy at jlevy@mail.nysed.gov

Please continue to send in your comments and requests. If you have a subject you would like addressed, feedback on the material you read, input or general comments we are happy to hear from you.