The State of Maryland recently passed legislation enabling local jurisdictions to adopt the International Green Construction Code (also known as the Green Code) as a requirement for new construction in that state, to be effective as of March 2012. This follows the previous adoption of the Green Code 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 Green Code is intended to serve as a model, enforceable building code in contract to voluntary rating systems, such as LEED. The primary organization behind the development of the Green Code 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 Green Code 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 Green Code will have considerable acceptance and impact in building circles.
Green Code vs. LEED
The Green Code 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 Green Code.
Status of Green Code
The public process of developing the Green Code 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 Green Code. The final public comment deadline is set for 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 Green Code
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 Green Code could be the biggest development to hit the architectural profession in the last 50 years. Considering the potential impact of the Green Code 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.