ConstructionPro Week, Volume: 1 - Issue: 5 - 06/07/2012

How Long Will it Take for Widespread Adoption of the International Green Construction Code to Occur?

By Steve Rizer


The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has unveiled a guide to help architects implement the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) in their practices, but how long will it take for widespread adoption of the code across the United States to occur? Although the organization announced that it has “taken a leadership role” in promoting the code to policymakers, most architects apparently will have plenty of time to prepare for the IgCC.


“It’s a brand new code,” Jessyca Henderson, AIA’s managing director of policy and community relations, told ConstructionPro Week (CPW). “Like any other model code, adoptions happen over time, not overnight. Every jurisdiction is unique, and as the code was just published for the first time in March 2012, we’re anticipating it’s going to take time.”


AIA has taken recent steps to prepare its membership for the code, introducing “Guide to the IgCC,” which is meant to serve as a one-stop-shop document exclusively for AIA-member architects working in jurisdictions where the IgCC already has been adopted or is expected to be adopted. Among the areas covered in the guide are a comprehensive overview of the IgCC; a backgrounder on the IgCC’s genesis and a history of environmental advocacy by the AIA; a closer look at energy and energy modeling; a chapter-by-chapter summary of the IgCC; and other information.


As far as what AIA is doing to promote IgCC adoption, the association “is strongly encouraging its members to actively engage in conversations with their jurisdictions having authority to adopt the IgCC in order to facilitate the type of adoption that best suits their local conditions,” Henderson said. “The IgCC is highly customizable, and jurisdictions should read and understand the code before proceeding with an adoption. One size does not fit all. To this end, AIA has put out the AIA Guide to the IgCC as a starting point for its members for conversations about the IgCC they will have with their jurisdiction.”


“Jurisdictions considering the IgCC should avail themselves of the technical expertise in their architectural community. We’re doing all we can to educate our members so that they will be resources and, when the time comes, prepared to practice under the IgCC.”


In an email interview with CPW, International Code Council Inc. (ICC) spokesperson Steve Daggers provided the following additional information:


CPW: Where has the IGCC been adopted?


Daggers: Florida has adopted the IgCC as an option for the retrofitting and new construction of all state-owned facilities. Previously, Florida law did not recognize any kind of green construction code, only voluntary rating systems. The legislation specifically allows the IgCC to be used by the Department of Management Services and encourages state agencies to adopt the IgCC as a model green building code that will apply to buildings financed by the state, including county, municipal, school districts, water management districts, state universities, community colleges, and state court buildings. When economically feasible, the legislation recommends retrofitting existing state-owned buildings in order to maximize building efficiency. The legislation notes that Florida lawmakers expect the IgCC to serve as a model for private-sector adoption of sustainable building measures.


Boynton Beach is the first city in Florida to adopt the IgCC as the core of its local voluntary green code that went into effect in April.


The Phoenix City Council unanimously approved the adoption of the IgCC and ICC 700, the National Green Building Standard, effective July 1.


In Scottsdale, Ariz., the IgCC will replace and update the city’s voluntary commercial green-building program in an effort to encourage developers of commercial and multifamily buildings to pursue green development projects. The code also will replace Scottsdale’s previous voluntary commercial green building rating checklist program. The new code provides flexibility to adapt to Scottsdale’s geographic conditions and environmental quality of life. This change took effect Aug. 4.


Kayenta Township, Ariz., adopted Public Version 2.0 on a voluntary basis and may be incorporated into the community’s Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.


The North Carolina Building Code Council adopted the Rainwater Collection and Distribution Systems section of the International Green Construction Code Public Version 1.0 with amendments, which is expected to enhance the North Carolina Plumbing Code Appendix on Rainwater. The state’s plumbing code is based on the International Plumbing Code with North Carolina amendments and already in use throughout the state.


The 2011 Oregon Commercial Reach Code features energy-related provisions of the IgCC Version 2.0 with amendments. The IgCC was flexible enough to adapt to Oregon’s needs and integrate with the existing I-Codes that the state currently uses. The State of Oregon Building Codes Division developed the optional “reach code” that includes construction methods and technology to increase energy efficiency. Builders across the state can now use this optional code to develop high-performance new construction projects as well as retrofits. The Commercial Reach Code, which also incorporates components of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code, took effect July 1.


Richland, Wash., adopted the IgCC as a non-mandatory document for commercial buildings.


In Keene, N.H., the IgCC is an “Allowable Green Building System” in the city’s Sustainable Energy Efficient Development zone, a voluntary urban incentive-based area that promotes green building and redevelopment in its downtown.


The Fort Collins, Colo., City Council voted to approve significant extractions from the IgCC and the National Green Building Standard, ICC 700, as part of green building code amendments to the city’s building codes, effective in January 2012.


The state of Rhode Island Green Buildings Act identifies the IgCC as an equivalent standard in compliance with requirements that all public agency major facility projects be designed and constructed as green buildings. It includes ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1 as a jurisdictional compliance option.


The state of Maryland adopted the IgCC to apply to all commercial buildings as well as residential properties more than three stories high.


CPW: In which other places is the IGCC expected to be adopted in the near future?


Daggers: ICC does not report adoptions until they are approved by the appropriate jurisdiction. ICC believes that safe and sustainable construction is here to stay and demand for a green code will continue.


CPW: How is the IgCC being promoted?


Daggers: With the support of our cooperating sponsors -- American Institute of Architects, ASTM International, ASHRAE, the U.S. Green Building Council and the Illuminating Engineering Society -- ICC hosted a series of public events to introduce the code along with presentations at conferences, meetings, and similar events. The association also reached out one-on-one to key audiences. ICC undertook a host of public information initiatives, from news releases to outreach to segments of the green industry including key bloggers and organizations, resulting in hundreds of articles and millions of impressions in trade, consumer, and new media, and advertising. ICC publications, its website, and social media outlets also were key communications channels. ICC developed training, seminars, and certifications around the IgCC.


ICC-ES [ICC Evaluation Service] also is developing a white paper, with plans for broad distribution, on the topic of the history of the development of the IgCC, requirements of the code, and how ICC-ES environmental reports can help manufacturers demonstrate their products meet applicable requirements of the IgCC. The Code Council’s International Accreditation Service (IAS) began its sustainability-related initiatives in April 2008 when it convened a “Green” forum.


Recognizing that environmental issues were becoming increasingly important in the construction industry, the forum concluded it was imperative that providers of green-related services, products, and systems have access to laboratories, inspection bodies, and product certifiers that are accredited under green standards by a globally recognized organization such as IAS. IAS has several entities accredited in areas covered by the IgCC such as volatile organic compounds; formaldehyde emissions from manufactured wood products, paints and sealants; recycled contents of materials; and the U.S. EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] EnergyStar and Water Sense programs. IAS accredited a laboratory involved in calibration of turbines used by the wind energy industry as well as several laboratories involved in the testing of photovoltaic cells.




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