This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

March 24, 2010

Building Industry Groups Launch the International Green Construction Code

Leading U.S. building industry associations launched the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) on March 11, representing a unique merger of two national efforts to develop adoptable and enforceable green building codes. The groups collaborated to make the IGCC a model regulatory framework for the construction of high-performance commercial buildings that are safe and sustainable. The new document provides the building industry with language that both broadens and strengthens building codes in ways that will accelerate the construction of high-performance green buildings. This is considered vital, because buildings use 39% of the energy and 74% of the electricity produced each year in the United States.

The groups unveiling the code included the International Code Council (ICC), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES). For decades, ICC and ASHRAE have worked to develop codes and standards that have become the industry standard of care for the design, construction, operations, and maintenance of residential and commercial buildings in the United States and internationally. In coordination with the efforts of ICC and ASHRAE, USGBC has been leading a nationwide green building movement centered on the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System since LEED was launched in 2000. LEED concentrates on improving performance across five key areas of environmental and human health: energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, sustainable site development, and water savings. The IGCC combines these two efforts.

A major addition to the technical content of the IGCC is the inclusion of ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1, "Standard for the Design of High Performance, Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings," as an alternate path of compliance. Standard 189.1 is a set of technically rigorous requirements, which like the IGCC 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. The industry groups will work to accelerate the adoption of the new model code in jurisdictions throughout the United States and around the world. See the USGBC press release (PDF 54 KB) and the IGCC Web site. Download Adobe Reader.