Elevator technology is constantly evolving, yet building developers in North America are limited in their ability to deploy state-of-the-art technologies in a timely manner. This is due to prescriptive design limitations imposed by the Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators, ASME A17.1/CSA B44. The performance-based code (PBC) "sets standards based on performance expectations of the equipment rather than specifications of materials and designs."
In states and jurisdictions without the PBC, elevator manufacturers, building designers and regulatory authorities are forced to rely upon a variety of diverse state and local procedures to authorize alternative elevator technology and installation, or alternative technologies are not allowed all together. The current system requires a company to obtain a variance in every PBC-lacking jurisdiction for the same technology each time a single installation is planned. Ultimately, this adds unnecessary costs and delays.
As part of the PBC, manufacturers are required to perform a risk assessment to show compliance with the safety standards for their designs. The designs are then reviewed and analyzed by an Accredited Elevator/Escalator Certifying Organization (AECO). Only elevator technologies and designs certified by a third-party AECO as meeting safety code requirement will be allowed to move forward. However, the local jurisdiction retains its authority to deny the use of the proposed PBC designs.
Starting in 2007, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) recognized that compliance with the PBC (ASME A17.7/ CSA B44.7), would be equivalent to compliance with the current safety code (ASME A17.1/CSA B44) and provide an alternative to the variance process for new technology.
When adopted across the United States and Canada, the PBC will allow North America to foster innovation with state-of-the-art elevator technology while maintaining or exceeding the safety requirements under the Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators, ASME A17.1/CSA B44.