New Green Construction Code Published for Public Comment

Green Products Update

Date: March 19, 2010


A group of prominent construction industry associations recently published the first comprehensive set of building codes targeted specifically at "green" and sustainable safety concepts, which would regulate construction of new and existing commercial buildings and require all construction to meet certain green standards. Not only does the creation and adoption of these codes affect building construction and design, but the codes also will drive decisions as to what building products can or cannot be used in such green buildings.

On March 15, the International Code Council, in conjunction with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and ASTM International published the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) for public comment. These original sponsors of the IGCC were joined by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Illuminating Engineers Society (IES), who in January 2010 published ASHRAE Standard 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings. The most recent version of the IGCC includes Standard 189.1 as an alternative path to compliance.

The IGCC, and Standard 189.1 included within it, covers criteria including water use efficiency, indoor environmental quality, energy efficiency, materials and resource use, and the building's impact on its site and its community. As such, the IGCC creates a regulatory framework requiring many of the building practices that were only goals under the LEED Green Building Rating System established by the U.S. Green Building Council. The IGCC would provide a readily enforceable set of baseline regulations for green buildings.

The IGCC is intended for adoption by governments that had previously used only ratings systems to promote construction of green buildings within their jurisdictions. In jurisdictions where the code is adopted, all construction of new and existing commercial buildings could be required to be green. Under the IGCC, criteria such as the point of manufacture, recycled content, recyclability, bio-content and off-gassing of building products are all regulated. As a result, building product manufacturers must consider those same characteristics to ensure that building owners and design professionals will select their products.

While governments can adopt the code immediately, the sponsors of the IGCC are accepting public comment on the code and intend to publish the second public version on November 3, 2010 for additional public comment. The final version is to be issued in early 2012. Copies of the IGCC Public Version 1.0 and ASHRAE Standard 189.1, as well as forms for submitting public comments and the complete public comment and publication schedule are available at