New Code Could Build Green Future

Since the USGBC established LEED, professionals have discussed its obsolescence as new standards develop and sustainability is incorporated into building standards. Perhaps that time is near with the new International Green Construction Code (IGCC), now available for review. As I have begun to peruse its contents, I am pleased to see that the complete draft of the code is conceived of holistically. It is a positive step in the evolution of building codes to establish green standards that move beyond LEED and recognize in depth the complexities of the built environment.

Developed by a Sustainable Building Technology Committee (SBTC), established last June by the AIA, International Code Council, and ASTM International, it is clear that the IGCC was developed by professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, urban planning, and related governing agencies nationwide for the professionals working in those industries. The chapters are organized in categories similar to LEED, such as Site Development and Land Use (Chapter 4) or Indoor Environmental Quality and Comfort (Chapter 8), but the contents relate directly to current building codes. Eventually, if and when the IGCC is incorporated into the International Building Code or Model Code, the transition will be straightforward.

The IGCC is much more specific than LEED when outlining requirements for a building, as they are related to location, type, occupation, and/or site conditions — similar to building codes. For example, there is a table in Chapter 4, Section 403: Transportation Impact, that defines the number of bicycle parking spaces based on occupancy (related to the Model Code) and use. Movie theaters in A-1 Occupancy require one short-term space per 50 seats, but no less than four spaces, and one long-term space per 50 employees, but no less than two spaces. Schools on the other hand, in E Occupancy, require one long-term space per 10 students and do not require any short-term spaces.

The public comment period for this draft of the IGCC is open until 05.14.10, after which there will be an internal review period, a code development hearing, and a revised draft issued on 08.14.10. The cycle will repeat and continue through November 2011, and hopefully the IGCC will be adopted at the beginning of 2012. I encourage everyone to take a look and participate in the discussion, as this code could significantly impact the future of the built environment at a global scale.