Code Green

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I attended a very interesting session on the International Green Construction Code at the American Institute of Architect’s convention last week.  The AIA was ‘there at the creation’ of the IgCC, participating extensively in its development, and is asking their members to advocate for its adoption in their local markets.  Lots of interesting questions were raised during the session (which were recorded and can be purchased at 

One of the things that surprised me was the range of viewpoints in the room.  A panelist asked, “Who’s really excited about this code?” and a couple hands went up.  In response to, “Who’s really concerned and anxious?”, most hands went up.  The discussion certainly gave this non-architect a newfound respect for the extensive effort (non-billable time of course) that a practicing architect or consultant must devote to staying current with the codes, and with the IgCC  there’s going to be even more to cover.  There will be additional responsibilities in commissioning, metering, and monitoring of existing buildings – not just new ones.  A range of permutations (and interpretations) of the IgCC is possible, leading to probable inconsistencies across jurisdictions.  Of course, there will also be lots of opportunities and a chance to take a leadership position, for those that want to be on the forefront of the implementation and use of the new code.

As of this writing, the IgCC is not in force as a sole compliance option anywhere; but it has only been published for two months.  The State of Maryland seems to be the furthest along, but the language directing municipalities is written ‘may adopt’, and as far as I know no municipalities have.  But, generally, if you are used to very green projects, you’re going to be used to this.  Even better, for the professional roofing contractor who installs cool roofing and has a membrane and insulation recycling program in place, you’re already most of the way there.  And it was clear from the session that the best way to understand what’s coming is to know your architect.  With the support of the AIA, they are actively being kept up to date.  You can learn more at:

And just to get some comments on this posting going, here’s a question that came up during the sessions:

Q: If IgCC is adopted in your jurisdiction, can you still do LEED®? 

Let’s hear what you have to say, and I’ll give the answer that was given in the sessions in the responses.

There are 10 comments

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  1. upvc windows

    Many consumers realize that environmentally friendly construction and living is necessary in the 21st century. Not every individual or group has the funds available to support their green projects, however, limiting green development across the United States. To relieve some of the pressure, many grant programs exist solely to provide funds for green construction.

  2. Van Roof Bars

    An integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) is a technology that uses a gasifier to turn coal and other carbon based fuels into gas—synthesis gas (syngas). It then removes impurities from the syngas before it is combusted. Some of these pollutants, such as sulfur, can be turned into re-usable byproducts. This results in lower emissions of sulfur dioxide, particulates, and mercury.

  3. Andre

    At the end of the day, LEED is a marketing tool that doesn't come cheap either. If I know my building has to comply with IgCC why bother spending more money to make it LEED Certified or even Silver? Now, you if want to achieve LEED 'Gold' or 'Platinum' then they can still have a demand.

  4. Double Glazing

    The IgCC is the first model code that includes sustainability measures for the entire construction project and its site — from design through construction, certificate of occupancy and beyond. The new code is expected to make buildings more efficient, reduce waste, and have a positive impact on health, safety and community welfare.

  5. plumbing

    I think that the IGCC is latest when it comes to construction development. We better try this to know the difference but the LEED is still there. It's up to us to choose the best option.

  6. Martin Grohman

    Thanks for the comments.
    The answer given in the sessions was basically to say, that code sets the floor (minimum) and LEED(r) and other rating systems give ideas for going beyond code. So if an AHJ adopts IgCC, the floor has gone up, but LEED is still out there with blue sky goals. Some in the session even argued that since by building to IgCC, you've done 50% (my guesstimate) of what LEED requires, you might be more likely to apply.

  7. Van Roof Bars

    Green building practices aim to reduce the environmental impact of buildings, and the very first rule is, do not build in sprawl (spreading in disordered fashion). No matter how much grass you put on your roof, no matter how many energy-efficient windows, etc., you use, if you build in sprawl, you've just defeated your purpose. Buildings account for a large amount of land.

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