New Construction Code Aims to Unify Green Building Standards

New Construction Code Aims to Unify Green Building Standards

The International Code Council today released the first public version of the International Green Construction Code (IGCC), a comprehensive standard for improving the environmental performance of commercial buildings.

The code, which has been in the works since 2009 aims to reduce energy use and cut greenhouse gases from buildings, as well as to emphasize building performance.

The IGCC focuses on site development and land use, indoor air quality and promotes the use of energy-efficient appliances, renewable energy systems, water resource conservation, rainwater collection and distribution systems and the recovery of greywater.

The ICC developed the code with local and regional implementation in mind; a key element the group highlighted today is its "jurisidictional electives," a section that allows municipalities and local governments to customize elements of the code to mesh with that region's priorities and building conditions.

As reported last fall, the state of California's green building code served as a model for the development of the IGCC. The code was developed in partnership with major players in the buildings world, including the American Institute of Architects, global standards firm ASTM International, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

"Green building codes and standards working complementary to one another is a critical step towards advancing green building," Rick Fedrizzi, the president, CEO and Founding Chair of the USGBC, said in a statement. "This collaboration will accelerate the adoption of green building codes and standards developed jointly by ICC, ASHRAE, USGBC and IES, across the country and around the globe as we work collectively towards transforming building design, construction and operations to green practices."

The IGCC is open for public comments until May 14, 2010; comments will be incorporated into a second public version to be released this fall, and the final version is expected to be published in early 2012.

Once the code has been finalized, it will be available for municipalities to adopt as their own local and regional building codes, and can be harmonized with existing codes.

The ICC said in the release of the public version that governments around the globe that are "clamoring for a green code to complement voluntary rating systems can adopt the code immediately to reduce energy usage as well as the resulting carbon footprint of thousands of commercial building projects."

For more insight into the development of the IGCC, see these two articles by Shari Shapiro, author of the Green Building Law Blog and a member of the team creating the code: "Why the World Needs Another Green Building Standard and "The Backstory on ICC Code Plans." The full public version 1.0 is available for free download from the ICC website.