Learn how this code can make it easier for your facility to become a high-performance building

by Brianna Crandall — May 3, 2017 — Here is a quick background of a unified green building code due out next year that is expected to make higher performing buildings easier to achieve and could become the foundation for LEED certification: The code was created in 2011, thanks to a partnership among global building technology society ASHRAE, the International Code Council (ICC), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

That effort got a boost in August 2014, when ICC and ASHRAE agreed to align the technical requirements of ASHRAE’s Standard 189.1 for High Performance Green Buildings with ICC’s International Green Construction Code (IgCC) into one single model code.

With that agreement, and with the subsequent definition of each organization’s roles, the ASHRAE Standard 189.1 committee continued revising the standard so it could provide technical content for the IgCC green building code, with the ICC responsible for the administrative sections and publication.

This integrated document, coined the “IgCC powered by 189.1,” will become the 2018 version of the IgCC (2018-IgCC), due to be published in summer 2018.

International Code Council Board President M. Dwayne Garriss, Georgia State Fire Marshal, stated:

The 2018-IgCC will provide the design and construction industry with the single, most effective way to deliver sustainable, resilient, high-performance buildings. The “IgCC-powered-by-189.1” joint initiative framed the essential sustainable construction building blocks on which future resilient initiatives can develop and expand. We appreciate the dedication and efforts of our partners, ICC Members and all who contributed to the development of the “IgCC powered by 189.1.”

By collaborating on developing the 2018-IgCC green building code, these organizations envision a new era of building design and construction that includes environmental health and safety as code minimums. The goal of the 2018-IgCC is to provide fundamental criteria for energy efficiency, resource conservation, water safety, land use, site development, indoor environmental quality and building performance that can be adopted broadly.

With that foundation, local jurisdictions can build upon regulatory requirements by leveraging complementary leadership strategies that support and encourage the evolution of the building community. Initial steps in achieving these outcomes include publishing the 2018-IgCC, streamlining compliance for aligned strategies in LEED certification, and promoting the use and implementation of these tools.

USGBC alignment with green codes and LEED

Since the initial announcement of the “IgCC powered by 189.1” in 2015, the USGBC has made progress on recognizing the important role of green building codes for voluntary rating systems and LEED certification.

In the summer of 2015, Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) announced a package of measures required by California’s statewide Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen) that can now be streamlined when a project seeks LEED certification. More streamlining is anticipated in California and, importantly, this breakthrough in aligning code requirements with LEED pioneered an approach that the USGBC can leverage for aligning with forthcoming versions of the IgCC.

Once the technical content of the 2018-IgCC are known (following the handoff from ASHRAE to ICC later this year), the USGBC will undertake an analysis of the measures from the model green code and compare them to LEED requirements. This process will begin while the 2018-IgCC is being codified. The USGBC and GBCI anticipate being able to communicate further progress on alignment at Greenbuild this year.

Promoting the IgCC in 2018

While the publication of the 2018-IgCC in a little over a year will be a milestone achievement, it is only the beginning, says ASHRAE. In forming the historic agreement among ASHRAE, ICC, AIA, IES and USGBC, these organizations envision a new era of design and construction where green codes become widespread.

To help realize the vision, a concerted effort will begin to actively promote the 2018 model green building code with the goal of gaining wide-scale adoption. The details of this promotion are being formed now, but efforts will begin in early 2018. Additional details of this co-promotion will be announced later this year.