Mandating Green: The International Green Construction Code

Date: May 26, 2010

The International Code Council recently released for public comment Version 1.0 of the International Green Construction Code ("IGCC"), a model code targeted at providing mandatory green building requirements for new and existing commercial buildings. Written with the goal that local jurisdictions would adopt it, the IGCC builds upon the foundation established by the voluntary rating systems, such as the LEED and the Green Globes green building rating systems, and takes it one step further by providing a baseline mandatory code. The ICC, however, in establishing the IGCC was cognizant of the need to be reasonable in establishing requirements and performance thresholds and therefore established flexibility and choice within the mandatory provisions through the concept of "project electives." Within certain provisions of the code, owners and design professionals are given a choice as to which project electives with which to comply. The IGCC, however, does require compliance with a certain number of project electives. Additionally, the IGCC offers flexibility to the jurisdiction by including provisions for each jurisdiction to customize the code to meet the specific needs of the local environment.

The IGCC is comprised of 11 chapters, including such aspects of green and sustainable development as site development and land use, material resource conservation and efficiency, energy conservation, efficiency and earth atmospheric quality, water resource conservation and efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and building operation, maintenance and owner education. It applies to all commercial buildings, except equipment or systems used primarily for industrial or manufacturing processes. It does not apply to residential buildings, including residential portions of mixed-use buildings, except that high-rise residential buildings are permitted to comply with the IGCC or the ICC 700, a national green building standard for residential properties.

The IGCC was developed by the International Code Council ("ICC") in association with ASTM International and American Institute of Architects and is supported by the U.S. Green Building Council and The Green Building Initiative. The time for public comment on Version 1 of the IGCC expired on May 14, 2010. The public comments will be posted on July 2, 2010, with public hearings on the public comments on August 14 and 22, 2010. Version 2 is slated to be submitted November 2, 2010, with comments due by January 3, 2011, and hearings held May 16-22, 2011. The Final Action Hearing on the IGCC will occur November 3-6, 2011 at the 2011 ICC Annual Conference.