Another New Code?

Julie Ruth
March 1, 2010
COLUMN : Code Arena | Codes & Standards

Another new code? Yes, now in development at the International Code Council is the International Green Construction Code or IgCC, as it has been dubbed.

If you thought the ICC already published a code for green construction, that was actually not a code, but a standard.  ICC jointly published the National Green Building Standard with the National Association of Home Builders in 2008. That standard received approval from the American National Standards Institute in January 2009.

So you still might be wondering why ICC is then developing another code, standard, or whatever. The ICC 700 National Green Building Standard is only applicable to residential construction, including high rise residential as well as one and two family dwellings and townhouses. The IgCC is specifically being written to apply to all occupancies other than residential.

You still may be wondering now about the LEED rating program. That addresses commercial building, and it’s been around quite awhile. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program was development by the U.S. Green Building Council and has been in existence for over 10 years. It is recognized nationally and internationally for the rating of commercial buildings for sustainable design.

Which brings us back to the original question.  Why another new code?  Apparently, the active members (local code officials) of the ICC were being asked to put in place programs for green construction within the communities they served. So the ICC felt the development of the IgCC was needed. Apparently, LEED and other programs were not addressing their needs.

What it says
The IgCC is specifically being developed for adoption and use with another model building code, such as the IBC, and is not intended to supercede the safety, health or environmental requirements of other applicable codes or ordinances. As such, the timeline established by the ICC for the development of the IgCC will result in the first edition being available for adoption with the 2012 International Codes. The ongoing maintenance of the IgCC after the first edition will take place within the ICC code development process used for other International Codes.

The IgCC draft contains provisions for the following:

  • Responsible land use and development
  • Conservation of material resources and water
  • Efficiency of material resources, water and energy use
  • Indoor environmental quality and comfort
  • Building operation and maintenance
  • Use of existing buildings

The energy efficiency provisions of the IgCC draft are based upon a score that compares the Total Annual Net Energy Use (TANEU) of the building with the same value based upon the 2006 IECC. The provisions recognize compliance with the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code as a minimum entry point in anticipation of the 2012 IECC meeting the 30 percent reduction goal of the U.S. Department of Energy. As such, buildings built under the 2012 IECC would be considered to have a TANEU value of 70.

The IgCC also contains prescriptive provisions that exceed the stringency of the 2012 IECC by approximately 10 percent. Buildings built in compliance with the prescriptive provisions of the IgCC would be considered to have a TANEU value of 63.

The provisions for material resource conservation within the IgCC include minimum requirements for the amount of recycled content in new construction. Based upon the metric chosen by the designer (whether by volume or weight) at least 35 percent of the materials used to construct the building would need to be “reused, recycled content, recyclable, bio-based or indigenous” materials. To qualify as a recycled material, a building material would need to contain at least 25 percent post-consumer and pre-consumer recovered material that in turn can be recycled with a minimum recovery rate of 30 percent.

It should be noted that although the most recent version of the IgCC (Draft 1, Version 4) contains specific material conservation provisions for materials such as concrete and steel, no provisions have yet been added for aluminum, glass or vinyl. The draft does include placeholders, however, for aluminum, glass and plastic. Those sections simply do not yet have any content yet.

The ICC established timeline for the completion of the first edition of the IgCC (2012) as follows:

  • January-March, 2010: IgCC Draft 1, Version 4 is available for download and review on the ICC Web site (iccsafe.org).
  • March 15, 2010: IgCC Draft 1, Version 5 is to be posted on the ICC Web site for review and comment by all interested parties.
  • May 14, 2010: Deadline for Comments on IgCC Draft 1, Version 5.
  • July 2, 2010: Tentative deadline for posting of IgCC comments.
  • August 14-22, 2010: Hearings for the review of IgCC comments.
  • November 3, 2010: Revised IgCC to be posted.
  • January 3, 2011: Tentative deadline for code change Proposals to the revised IgCC.
  • May 16-22, 2011: IgCC Code Development Hearings
  • August 1, 2011: Tentative deadline for Public Comments on IgCC
  • November, 2011: Final Action Hearings on IgCC, in conjunction with ICC Annual Business Meeting.

AAMA and other members of the industry will be reviewing the first draft of the IgCC when it makes its debut in March 2010, with the possibility of filing subsequent comments. In the meantime, if you have a chance you may want to take a look at it yourself. Regardless of whether or not you think it is needed or helpful, it has the potential to have a serious impact on the products you provide in the future.

Code Arena is brought to you by the America Architectural Manufacturers Association. Julie Ruth may be reached through AAMA at 847/303-5664 or via e-mail at julruth@aol.com.