As towns and municipalities strive to establish standards and increase their sustainability profile, there is no lack of confusion on how best to make buildings energy efficient and sustainable. With a plethora of checklists, rating systems and a lot of “green-washing” going on as to what is truly effective, it is imperative that local governments, such as the City of Dayton, have a credible, enforceable and adoptable code in place.
That’s why the first of several public hearings that are taking place this month (August) at the Westin O’Hare Hotel in Chicago is so important. As they progress through the end of 2010 and into 2011, the hearings will represent the first chance for our profession, as well as others in the design and construction industry, to comment in an open forum about the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) – co-sponsored by the American Institute of Architects.
Version 1.0 of the IGCC was issued for its first written public comment period in March by the International Code Council (ICC), the pre-eminent code organization in cooperation with the AIA and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). And while we are far from having a completed “Green Code” that can be utilized to conserve energy, the IGCC is clearly gathering momentum.
Since the publishing of the first version, other important players from the building industry have joined forces with the ICC, USGBC, ASHRAE and IESNA. What’s more, the version 1.0 of the IGCC is available as a resource for jurisdictions who are seeking to adopt a green code immediately. On June 14, for example, the IGCC was endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. It is expected to be endorsed by other important civic groups as well as the hearing process commences. Rhode Island is conducting open public comment on the IGCC.
The goal of the ICC and the AIA is to have a fully developed version 2.0 of the IGCC by 2012.
While the IGCC is a code that is enforceable, it’s important to emphasize that this code’s biggest attribute is its flexibility. The IGCC is easily customized by local municipalities and states to meet the goals that are locally established. Like the other books in the family of i-codes, it is a model code and will work as an overlay to existing codes. The code will carry with it the considerable recent experience as to what actually works and will be the result of input from architects, engineers, code officials, contractors, building owners and other experts. Most importantly it will read and be administered like other codes and utilize the same distribution, training, permitting and enforcement procedures that are already in place across the country.
Buildings account for almost 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions and 76% of all power plant generated electricity. Architects know that buildings can be designed to operate with significantly less than today’s average energy levels often with little or no additional cost. This code will level the playing field and allow Dayton region municipalities to adopt a code that is being carefully crafted by the world’s leading code organization. For measurable progress to be made we need a regulatory framework in place that can only be offered by a code.