By Linda Schilling, Charity Gilbreth, and Shirin Forootan

On April 14, 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will hold a public meeting in Washington, DC to solicit comments on proposed changes to the new International Green Construction Code (IgCC).  There are approximately 1400 proposed changes addressing a wide range of issues—from vegetative roofs, to solar electric issues, to building envelope issues.  Hearings on the proposed changes are scheduled thereafter for May 16-22, 2011, in Dallas, Texas. 

The IgCC was developed by the International Code Council (ICC), which is a U.S. based non-profit organization that allows governmental jurisdictions and other stakeholders around the world to collaborate in the creation of model building codes.  ICC members include state, county and municipal code officials and fire officials, architects, engineers, builders, contractors, elected officials, manufacturers and others in the construction industry.  The ICC has published several comprehensive international codes, such as fire codes, fuel gas codes, residential codes, zoning codes, and plumbing codes.

In 2009, the ICC launched the development of the IgCC initiative to provide model green building code provisions for new and existing commercial buildings.  The IgCC is a baseline of codes for green construction that is intended to provide compliance flexibility through a variety of optional project electives.  The IgCC is a framework to link sustainability with safety and performance through provisions regulating site development and land use, material resource and efficiency, and indoor environmental quality and commissioning.  ICC anticipates publishing the IgCC code in 2012. 

While the IgCC itself is a “model” code, its provisions are intended to be mandatory when adopted.  Since each of the fifty states has adopted at least one of ICC’s international codes, as have several federal agencies, there is a potential for the IgCC to be incorporated into state or local government codes in the coming years.  For instance, the Building Officials Association of Florida has recommended that the IgCC be included in the appendix to the Florida Building Code, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors has called on local governments to adopt the IgCC.  As a result, it will be important for designers, engineers, contractors, and owners of, or investors in, green buildings to keep on eye on the IgCC as it is revised and finalized, and to watch where it is incorporated into state and/or local building codes.