The Building Department of the Palm Beach County School District in Florida has become the first school district in the nation to earn national Building Department Accreditation by International Accreditation Service (IAS). The IAS accreditation verifies that the district’s Building Department is professionally qualified to provide a high standard of public safety.
Joseph Moore, Chief Operating Officer for the Palm Beach County School District, comments, "This accreditation signifies the district's commitment to excellence in operations as well as academics."
With 37 employees including nine plan reviewers and 19 inspectors, the School District Building Department conducts plan review, issues permits, and performs inspections to ensure that school construction, renovation, and maintenance work is conducted in accordance with state-mandated building and fire safety codes.
In August 2007, the IAS Building Department Accreditation on-site evaluation team conducted a full evaluation of the district’s Building Department. The thirteen categories of accreditation criteria used to assess the department included evaluations of basic jurisdictional information, department staff, permitting, budget, construction codes, plan reviews, professional credentials/licenses, inspections, certificates of occupancy, on-site evaluations, annual reports, reevaluation, and complaints/appeals.
Throughout the process, IAS evaluators carefully assessed critical elements of the Building Department, including customer service, code interpretation and enforcement, and fiscal strength. This team of four IAS-trained evaluators, including practicing building officials, assessed the Building Department’s expertise and its compliance with the IAS Accreditation Criteria for Building Departments/Code Enforcement Agencies. The team also visited construction sites to appraise the district’s inspection process.
Joseph Sanches, Chief of Facilities Management for the District, adds, “Accreditation is an excellent vehicle to demonstrate to school district administrators, contractors, designers, and the public that the Building Department business model and procedures are in accordance with the highest national standards of code enforcement.”
Tom Hogarth, Building Department Director for the Palm Beach County School District, concludes, “The general public probably knows the Palm Beach County School District is actively constructing many new schools and replacing older schools. They might not realize that the school district has its own building department that functions much like a municipal building department. This accreditation is especially satisfying since we are able to raise public awareness while demonstrating that we meet the highest national standards set by the International Accreditation Service.”
International Accreditation Service, a subsidiary of the International Code Council, has offered Building Department Accreditation since January 2005. Several major cities across the nation are currently going through the accreditation process.
The nation’s leading provider of building department accreditation, IAS also assesses and accredits testing and calibration laboratories, fabricator inspection programs, special inspection agencies, curriculum developers and training agencies. It is a subsidiary of the International Code Council, a membership association dedicated to building safety and fire prevention that develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt codes choose the International Codes developed by the International Code Council.