News

Sustainability: A new model code in motion

0 442 Market Intelligence

St. Patrick’s Day will likely be joined by another “green” day this coming spring, though green in a wholly different sense. A draft of the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) is scheduled for release in March 2010, and will be first International Code (I-code) to address sustainable design and green construction practices for all commercial building types.

St. Patrick’s Day will likely be joined by another “green” day this coming spring, though green in a wholly different sense.

A draft of the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) is scheduled for release in March 2010, and will be first International Code (I-code) to address sustainable design and green construction practices for all commercial building types. Developed as part of the multi-year “IGCC: Safe and Sustainable by the Book” initiative, the new code is authored by the Sustainable Building Technology Committee (SBTC). This committee is comprised of code officials, sustainability experts and other representatives within the architectural, engineering and construction community, including members of the International Code Council (ICC), the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and ASTM International (ASTM).

The rapid drive to develop the new code has come about from a perfect storm of factors. These include the steady push for green products and sustainability, the impetus of ratings systems such as LEED, and the recognition that individual states and jurisdictions would probably soon find a need to start drafting their own sustainability codes.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Energy confirm the enormous amount of energy used by buildings. A proposed feature of the new green code will be a process to ensure that claims of green materials use and green construction techniques that reduce energy consumption can be verified. The SBTC will establish post-occupancy building commissioning protocols that will define performance parameters and measurement techniques, to include designating what entity will measure performance and how often. Currently, there is debate committee members over whether these protocols should be addressed as policy guidelines or as mandates within the code.

Another innovative approach to the code is the recognition that regional differences require flexibility in how the new code will be applied. For example, certain natural resources, such as locally harvestable building materials or an abundant water supply, may not be available in all areas. Consequently, the SBTC is working to establish minimum threshold tiers that municipalities could adopt according to their particular needs. Similarly, there may be an option for “compliance electives” that municipalities could use to specify environmentally friendly features unique to their region.

The SBTC envisions that the new green code will:

  • Be progressive and forward-looking in scope
  • Offer the flexibility to account for varying local and regional conditions, such as energy resources
  • Be consistent with and coordinated with the ICC family of codes and standards
  • Apply to traditional and high performance buildings, structures and systems in both new construction and renovation applications
  • Provide criteria to measure compliance

Solicitation of public comments will begin with the release of the SBTC’s draft in March 2010, at which point jurisdictions may use the draft to begin developing legislation. Public comment and hearings will continue through spring and summer, ending in August. From there, the IGCC will go through another round of review, comments and public hearings in 2011, with final publication scheduled for the 2012 ICC Family of Codes.

by Wayne Engebretson

Leave a comment

Or register to be able to comment.