Thanks to HOK Director of Sustainable Design Mary Ann Lazarus, co-chair of the AIA IgCC Task Force, for this guest post.
Did you all feel the earth shake last Wednesday, March 28? Why? Because that’s when the International Code Council issued the new International Green Construction Code (IgGC). So what? Code language usually isn’t that exciting, and typically sets the low bar for design. Well the IgCC is different in so many ways.
The IgCC is the result of many years labor by the ICC, AIA, USGBC, IESNA and others to define a new baseline of sustainability that will apply to all commercial construction. It incorporates as an option the ASHRAE 189 language that was also put together by a similar coalition, and in many ways incorporates LEED language and approaches that we are familiar with.
The new code covers all aspects of a project from site selection, to materials, to energy reduction requirements, commissioning and much more. However, this is code — not an optional rating system. That’s a big difference in the evolution of sustainable building adoption. There’s a lot of flexibility built in that allows a jurisdiction to determine which parts of the code they want to implement and also provides for client specific requirements that, once identified, will need to be met to get a permit.
Code adoption takes time and will have a different impact based on where you build. But no matter what, this is an important shift for all of us in the design and construction industry. We need to pay close attention and become very familiar with these new requirements. It’s a wonderful opportunity for all architects to get in front of industry changes and to take on an important leadership role.