The International Code Council, the non-profit organization which develops and maintains the International Building Code, announced on Earth Day that they were creating a new "green" commercial building code which would be in line with the ICC's other building code products.
ICC codes are "consensus" based codes, so the process for developing the code involves:
- Convening a select drafting committee
- Inviting public comment on the initial draft
- Placing the final draft into the ICC code development process
This code may address the common criticism of LEED and other green building standards that they are not designed to be incorporated into building codes, and that they are not specific enough to be used as legal platforms.
ICC is not the first organization to attempt to create a building-code friendly standard for green. ASHRAE convened a committee to develop Standard 189.1 several years ago
Proposed Standard 189, Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, will provide minimum requirements for the design of sustainable buildings to balance environmental responsibility, resource efficiency, occupant comfort and well-being, and community sensitivity. Using USGBC’s LEED Green Building Rating System, which addresses the top 25% of building practice, as a key resource, Standard 189P will provide a baseline that will drive green building into mainstream building practices.
Standard 189P will be an ANSI-accredited standard that can be incorporated into building code. It is intended that the standard will eventually become a prerequisite under LEED.
After releasing a draft standard in 2007, the ASHRAE dissolved the original committee in late 2008, and reconstituted it at the beginning of 2009. There was a great deal of scuttle that the committee was dissolved because major builders, manufacturers and developers did not have enough of a say in the development of the standard.
It will be interesting to see if ICC will be more successful that ASHRAE in developing a commercial green building code, and whether that code will, in fact, be green. ICC developed a residential green standard with the National Association of Home Builders, and the criticism of the NAHB Green standard is that the requirements are not as stringent as LEED for Homes. We shall see if the ICC green commercial standard will incorporate the same green requirements as LEED-NC.
Finally, even creating an ICC green code will not solve the issue expressed by code officials that there is a lack of expertise and training in green construction. In fact, if the ICC code is developed and adopted in municipalities and states across the country, a much greater investment will be required in training, education and expertise to ensure that the codes are implemented and enforced properly.