Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), such as building & fire officials, are more than ever preferring ESR documents (or ES reports) when looking for new products and building technologies. This hasn’t always been the case. 10 years ago when I started selling code driven products like Smoke Guard most AHJs were not familiar with the ES Reports which we had invested much time and energy to get for our product. But that has definitely changed in recent years. ES reports have become more accepted, often requested, and even expected in some cases.
Here’s a description from the ICC-ES website about the ESRs:
“ICC-ES is the leader in evaluating building products for code compliance and sustainable attributes. For decades, ICC-ES has been the industry leader in performing technical evaluations for code compliance, providing regulators and construction professionals with clear evidence that products comply with codes and standards.
Having completed hundreds of evaluations of building products, components, methods, and materials, ICC-ES has a proven track record of excellence in product evaluations. This record extends to reports regarding sustainability under standards such as CALGreen (the California Green Building Standards Code), IgCC (International Green Construction Code), and other green rating systems.” – icc-es.org
According to this 2007 survey, ICC-ES determined that their ESR documents were reliable and desired by AHJs. 87% of respondents reported that they use the reports in approving alternative products and 61% reported using the products to approve code-referenced products. Since these statistics, ESR documents have increased even more in popularity.
Architects often prefer ESR documents as well. If the AHJ disapproves a product, it can be costly and time consuming (not to mention embarrassing) for the architect and building owner to find a replacement or redesign another acceptable alternative. They know the the local AHJ will probably accept the product without delay if an ESR is included, making the process that much easier for everyone involved. AHJ’s gain “peace of mind” when a product is submitted with an ESR.