ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 149 - 03/07/2012

USGBC, ACEEE, ICC Release Green Building Publications

By Steve Rizer


The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and International Code Council (ICC) have released new publications promoting green buildings.


Late last month, USGBC and the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning unveiled “Green Building and Climate Resilience: Understanding Impacts and Preparing for Changing Conditions,” a report outlining how the organizations believe green buildings advance resiliency in disasters.


The report describes potential adaptive strategies available to green building practitioners, according to USGBC. “These strategies add an important new dimension to green buildings’ long-standing focus on reducing greenhouse gases through energy efficiency and renewable and low-carbon energy supplies.”


Added Chris Pyke, USGBC’s vice president of research: “Every building is designed for a specific range of conditions, such as peak temperature, storm surge, and average precipitation. Climate change has the potential to undermine some of these assumptions and potentially increase risks to people and property. Fortunately, there are practical steps we can take to understand and prepare for the consequences of changing environmental conditions and reduce potential impacts. This can help green buildings meet and exceed expectations for comfort and performance long into the future.”


On the heels of the report’s release, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate urged leaders from major corporations, government, academia, the scientific community, and civil society to help advance green building as a complementary strategy to address pre- and post-emergency management situations, ultimately forging more resilient communities.


“In the wake of last year’s disaster activity, with tornadoes across the Southwest, flooding from Hurricane Irene, and even an earthquake on the East Coast, it is important that we develop and enforce safe and sustainable building codes to make our communities more resilient and to protect lives and property in times of disaster. Green building practices, resiliency of our communities, and emergency management priorities are not mutually exclusive.”


The report does the following, USGBC stated:

  • Examines the implications of climate change for green building and identifies opportunities for resilience through the design, construction, and operation of buildings and communities.
  • Analyzes how individual Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design credits support regional adaptation needs such as enhanced water conversation in arid climates and water-sensitive regions.
  • Demonstrates how consideration of climate resilience in buildings can increase the likelihood of achieving performance goals throughout the lifetime of a project.

“Through extensive study, examination, and practice, the green building movement continues to drive the development and use of proven building strategies for a sustainable and resilient future,” said Jason Hartke, vice president of national policy at USGBC. “We commend Administrator Fugate and his colleagues in the Obama administration who are advancing this ‘no-regrets’ resiliency agenda, showing the benefit of incorporating appropriate disaster preparation and prevention strategies in the built environment and leading efforts to develop the necessary tools and resources to rebound smarter, greener, and better when disasters do strike."


ACEEE Document Reports Moderate Savings from Smart-Grid Feedback Devices


ACEEE has released “Results from Recent Real-Time Feedback Studies,” a report that prompted the organization to characterize the level of savings from smart-grid feedback devices as “modest but encouraging.” 


Recent smart-grid policy initiatives in the U.S. and European Union have led to large-scale research projects investigating the use of real-time feedback technologies that leverage data provided by smart meters, ACEEE stated. The report found residential electricity savings ranging from 0 percent to 19.5 percent with average savings of 3.8 percent.


“This level of savings is modest but encouraging, given the number of factors that appear to influence the use of feedback devices,” said Ben Foster, senior analyst at ACEEE and lead author of the report. “While by no means an exhaustive list, these factors include the design of the devices and the types of content they provide, the degree to which these devices enable the various tasks people want to accomplish using the information provided, negotiations between members of the household that influence energy use, and perhaps a predisposition in responding to information about energy use.”


The largest savings of 19.5 percent came from the combination of prepayment and real-time feedback in Northern Irish homes that had a new prepayment meter installed. At the other end of the spectrum, two pilots reviewed in ACEEE’s report found that there was no effect in the aggregate of providing real-time information to households about their electricity use.


A small portion of the population, which the report calls “cyber-sensitives,” appears to be more inclined to save electricity based on real-time information, but this group is currently difficult to identify because it cuts across demographic lines, ACEEE stated.


“This suggests that real-time feedback may be deployed most cost-effectively as a ‘boutique’ energy efficiency strategy aimed at groups that are more likely to actively monitor their energy use,” Foster said.


International Green Construction Code Guide Released


ICC and Delmar, part of Cengage Learning, have released what is believed to be the construction industry’s first support publication referencing the 2012 International Green Construction Code (IGCC), which is scheduled to be released this spring. “Green Building: A Professional’s Guide to Concepts, Codes and Innovation” is the latest joint effort developed by the two organizations that began co-publishing special projects in 2005.


“This is the first publication covering the provisions and concepts of the [IGCC], and other green standards and rating systems, in a way that would support all construction professionals by laying the foundation for design, construction, and inspection based on the 2012 IGCC and its referenced standards,” ICC Executive Director of Sustainability Dave Walls said.


Readers of the guide are expected to gain a better understanding of where the building industry is headed and how to become compliant with green practices and regulations. The publication includes straightforward explanations of how buildings and ecosystems can work together as well as the sustainability concerns inspiring current regulations. Relevant codes and standards are discussed with additional attention given to the IGCC and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Standard 189.1 as well as environmental concepts and historical precedents.


The guide is coauthored by a duo of registered architects with experience in sustainability, design, and code development. Anthony Floyd serves as senior green building consultant for Scottsdale, Ariz., where he maintains the city’s green building criteria and conducts public outreach. Allan Bilka holds the position of senior staff architect at ICC, where he serves as secretariat in the development of the IGCC. He is involved with the development of training and certification materials to support the new code and instructs seminars on sustainable topics.


In an email interview with Green Building Insider, ICC spokesperson Josh Batkin provided the following additional details:


GBI: How is the publication being promoted? What is the budget for promoting this publication?


Batkin: With the support of our cooperating sponsors -- American Institute of Architects, ASTM International, ASHRAE, [USGBC], and the Illuminating Engineering Society – [ICC] has been building up to the publishing of the first edition of the [IGCC] for about three years. 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. ICC publications, its website, and social media outlets were key communications channels. ICC developed training, seminars, and certifications around the IGCC.


With the new code, there will also be an advertising campaign and other marketing initiatives. Code development hearings provided venues for interested parties from many industries impacted by green building to express their opinions and debate the pros and cons before the first edition of the IGCC was made available in print and digital formats. In addition, the ICC Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) offers plumbing, mechanical, and fuel gas listings evaluated to the IGCC.


ICC-ES 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. ICC’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 emission from manufactured wood products, paints, and sealants; recycled contents of materials; and the [federal] 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.


GBI: Which types of professionals are expected to use the report? About how many people are expected to access the report?


Batkin: ICC believes the primary audiences for this book (it is a book, not a report) are code enforcement officials, designers, architects, engineers, green industry professionals, contractors, and others who might deal with safe and sustainable construction. The publication is in partnership with Cengage Learning.


GBI: What are the titles of the chapters?


Batkin: Chapter 1 – “An Introduction to Green Building”; Chapter 2 – “The Evolution of an Ancient Idea”; Chapter 3 – “The Green Building Landscape and the Road Ahead”; Chapter 4 – “Sustainable Communities”; Chapter 5 – “Site Development”; Chapter 6 – “Water Efficiency”; Chapter 7 – “Sustainability and Material Resources”; Chapter 8 – “Energy Efficiency and Atmospheric Quality”; Chapter 9 – “Indoor Environmental Quality, Health and Well-Being”; Chapter 10 – “Building Commissioning, Operation, and Maintenance”; Chapter 11 – “A Look into the Future.”


GBI: Where has the IGCC been adopted most recently and when?


Batkin: 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 [state] 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 [IGCC] 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 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, [became] effective in January.


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.


GBI: In which other places is the IGCC expected to be adopted in the near future? Care to make any numerical projections on near-term and/or long-term adoption of the IGCC?


Batkin: Codes developed by the [ICC] are used in all 50 states and many nations worldwide, so we believe this code will also be widely adopted and have broad impact on the environment. It is too difficult to project future adoptions, but ICC reports all adoptions after 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.


GBI: When may a follow-up guide be developed and published?


Batkin: The Code Council and its partner publishers plan to release several publications related to the IGCC and sustainability issues during 2012. Some are: Building Code Basics—Green; Building Code Basics—Energy; IGCC Handbook; IGCC Study Companion.    


GBI: Other comments?


Batkin: The ICC will be joining with its partners to make a formal announcement of this new and finalized code within the next month, so stay tuned.




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