An Introduction to the International Green Construction Code (IgCC)

By: William E. Kelley, Jr., LEED AP BD+C

As has been discussed in several prior blog entries here, the 2012 International Green Construction Code (IgCC) is set to be released this spring.  What is the IgCC, and what impact will it have for the construction industry?  I recently had the opportunity to address these questions during a webinar hosted by the Associated Contractors & Builders (ABC) National Green Building Committee.  The presentation was titled, “What Contractors Need to Know About the International Green Construction Code (IgCC)”.  Although the live version of the webinar was held on March 20, you can access an archived version of the webinar, along with the presentation materials, by clicking here.

At its core, the IgCC can be described in three ways:

  • First, it is a “model” code, meaning that it provides a roadmap for jurisdictions interested in implementing a green construction code.  However, as a model code, it is not mandatory or enforceable until a jurisdiction elects to actually adopt it in that particular area.
  • Second, it is an “adaptable” code, insofar as jurisdictions have the option of adopting some or all of the code, or even adopting the whole code and then applying jurisdiction-specific amendments.  This gives jurisdictions some flexibility to shape the IgCC to meet their specific needs.
  • Third, it is an “overlay” code.  The IgCC cannot serve as a standalone green building code.  Instead, it specifically relies upon the existence of other codes and standards.  For example, the provisions relating to Energy Conservation, Efficiency and Atmospheric Quality make specific reference to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).  Because of the interrelation between the IgCC and other codes and standards, adopting jurisdictions will have to undergo a comprehensive review process in order to determine how existing codes will be affected by the IgCC, as well as determining whether any amendments or changes to those existing codes will be necessary in order to fully implement the IgCC.

Will the IgCC find universal acceptance among jurisdictions looking to implement green building legislation?  How will the IgCC affect projects seeking to go “above code” with LEED and other rating systems?  What challenges are there for jurisdictions, owners, contractors, and design professionals in relation to the IgCC and similar green building codes?  Look for future posts here with more details as we delve deeper into the IgCC and its potential effect on the industry.