New International Green Construction Code
“Sprouting Up” in 2012
By Matthew J. DeVries
No doubt you have heard about LEED®, Green Globes® and Energy Star green
standards in the United States. There are also state and regional standards such
as California’s CALGreen Code and Green Built™ Texas that have made a major
impact on both public and private construction. Recently, the American Society
of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the U.S.
Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES)
joined efforts to develop and release the International Green Construction Code
(IGCC). The State of Maryland recently passed legislation (effective March 2012)
enabling local jurisdictions to adopt the IGCC as a requirement for new
construction in that state. Previously, the IGCC was adopted by the State of
Rhode Island, the cities of Richland, Washington and Ft. Collins, Colorado, as
well as local governments in the State of New Hampshire.
What is the IGCC?
The IGCC was developed to apply to traditional and high-performance
buildings that are consistent and coordinated with the international family of
codes and standards. The IGCC is applicable to the construction of buildings,
structures and systems, including alterations and additions. It serves as a
model, enforceable building code in contrast to voluntary rating systems, such
The primary organization behind the development of the IGCC is the International
Codes Commission (ICC), a nonprofit membership association that has developed
numerous building codes (known as I-Codes) which are applicable to the
construction of residential and commercial buildings. The ICC is widely accepted
as a leader in this field as evidenced by the fact that I-Codes have been
adopted by all 50 states and many federal agencies. Other participants in the
process of developing the IGCC are the AIA, ASTM, ASHRAE, USGBC and IES. With
the broad participation of such well-established players in the construction
industry, it is anticipated that the IGCC will have considerable acceptance and
impact in building circles.
IGCC vs. LEED
The IGCC is not intended to compete with or replace LEED or similar green
building rating organizations, but instead will complement the efforts of such
organizations by providing a baseline mandatory building code. In fact, the
USGBC has been one of the leading sponsors of and participants in the process of
developing the IGCC. Some key questions for many in the design and construction
industry are: What impact will this code have on my project? Will it help me to
obtain LEED certification? Or will my clients forgo the expense of certification
and just want to meet code?
Status of IGCC
The public process of developing the IGCC began in March of 2010 with the
issuance of Version 1.0. Since then, there have been a series of comment
periods, public hearings, amendments and releases of revised versions of the
IGCC. The final public comment deadline was August 12, 2011, the final action
hearing is scheduled for November 2-6, 2011 and the anticipated publication date
is March of 2012.
Potential Impact of IGCC
The prospect of the wide-spread adoption of an enforceable green building
code is seen by many in the construction industry as having the potential to
fundamentally change the focus of sustainability in the United States. A
statement issued by the AIA predicted that the IGCC could be the biggest
development to hit the architectural profession in the last 50 years.
Considering the potential impact of the IGCC and the rapidly approaching
publication date, you can expect to see more and more commentary and discussion
of this major development in the sustainability arena.
is a member of the Construction Service Group of Stites & Harbison, PLLC, and is
a LEED® Accredited Professional. Matt lives in Nashville and is the founder of
www.bestpracticesconstructionlaw.com. You can reach the author at
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