International Green Construction Code Released

On the heels of the publication of ASHRAE Standard 189.1, a new code addressing sustainability in traditional commercial and high-performance buildings is now open for public review and comment. The International Green Construction Code (IGCC) Public Version 1.0 addresses energy use, water use, material and resource use, indoor environment quality, and building impacts on the environment such as greenhouse gas emissions, site design, sustainability owner/facility management education, and exiting buildings. Designed to provide a regulatory framework regarding sustainability in commercial buildings, it was developed by a Sustainable Building Technology Committee (SBTC) created by the International Code Council (ICC) board of directors. The American Institute of Architects and ASTM International served as cooperating sponsors.

Rather than compete with other codes or standards, the IGCC is designed to coordinate or integrate with existing International Codes (I-Codes) to provide minimum regulations for buildings and systems using prescriptive and performance-related provisions. For example, the IGCC uses the requirements of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Codes as its baseline energy provision.  In addition, recognizing potential conflicts in the marketplace, the ICC worked with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and the Illuminating Engineers Society (IES) to incorporate Standard 189.1 in the technical content of the IGCC as an alternative path of compliance.

In creating the initial provisions, the SBTC sought to create baselines and guidelines that do not unnecessarily increase construction costs; do not restrict the use of new materials, products or methods of construction; and do not give preferential treatment to particular types or classes of materials, products, or methods of construction. As a model code, the IGCC requires adoption by a governing jurisdiction before becoming law. Recognizing that the model language can be modified as needed to address local conditions, the code includes a set of “project electives” that will give jurisdictions options to customize the code beyond the baseline sustainability options.

The first version of the code is available for download at iccsafe.org, and the ICC will be accepting public comments via the web site until May 14. Comments will be posted on July 2, and public hearings will take place August 14-22 in Rosemont, Ill. Public Version 2.0 will be issued in November, and final action hearings are planned for 2011, with the end goal being the publication of the 2012 IGCC.

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