Construction Codes, Standards Developers Align Guidelines to Create Sustainable Buildings

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ICC, AIA, ASHRAE, IES, USGBC collaboration will create consistency that will benefit the environment, code compliance, builders, designers

Sharing resources will help reach the goal of environmentally friendly structures that reduce the carbon footprint and lessen energy consumption.

Whether you call it a green building, an energy-efficient building or a sustainable building, constructing new buildings and retrofitting existing buildings to be environmentally responsible is on the rise in the U.S. and globally. Several leading associations that develop construction codes and standards used to create green buildings are collaborating to bring consistency to high-efficiency structures. The initiative is being welcomed by code officials, architects, construction engineers and builders.

“In just a few years we progressed from developing the first model code for green buildings to a new cooperative document that will make it easier for owners, designers, builders and code officials to deliver sustainable, high-performing buildings,” said International Code Council (ICC) Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims.

Codes are documents that form a statute, ordinance or law that is enacted by a state or municipality to regulate building construction. Standards are documents written by industry groups to address the standardized approach to a test method, construction material, or material design method. Codes contain references to standards to specify requirements for a particular material or method.

The ICC develops the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), the first green construction code for traditional and high-performance commercial buildings with provisions to ensure safe and sustainable construction. Cooperating sponsors of the development of the IgCC are ASHRAE, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

All are collaborating on the development of the next edition of the IgCC, ASHRAE Standard 189.1 and the USGBC LEED green building program, three currently separate documents used to create green buildings.

“We are working to align new versions of Standard 189.1—the Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings—and the IgCC into one regulatory tool,” said ASHRAE President Tom Phoenix. “This agreement also seeks to align the LEED program with the new code to ensure a streamlined, effective set of regulatory and above-code options for jurisdictions across the country.”

“Sharing resources will help reach the goal of environmentally friendly structures that reduce the carbon footprint and lessen energy consumption,” said ICC Board of Directors President Guy Tomberlin. “With increased demand for sustainable buildings, this joint effort will have a major impact on creating more green buildings.”

“With the consolidation of the IgCC and Standard 189.1, and coordination with the LEED rating system, the AIA's goal to achieve a single set of regulations makes a critical step forward, while also providing a clearer path toward a sustainable built environment,” said AIA CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA.

IES Director of Technology Rita Harrold said, “Different partners have different strengths. Our organizations working together will result in harmonization of technical, administrative and compliance expertise to produce a single green code, simplifying the choice among design and code options for the using community.”

“This partnership leverages the unique strengths of world class organizations collaborating in an unprecedented way,” said USGBC Chief of Engineering Brendan Owens. “Building designers and operators know the benefits of integrated design and planning very well—we’ve taken our cue from them and will create a system where the whole is substantially more effective than the sum of its individual parts.”

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Steve Daggers
International Code Council
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