Rhode Island: First State to Adopt IGCC

By: William E. Kelley, Jr., LEED AP

In a November 17, 2009 blog post here, we commented on Rhode Island’s adoption of its Green Buildings Act, which imposed energy efficiency and sustainable design requirements on all new public projects in that state.  Now, Rhode Island has gone one step further, and it has become the first state to adopt the International Green Construction Code (IGCC).

In March 2010, the International Code Council (ICC) unveiled the IGCC for public review and comment.  The intent of the IGCC is that it can be adopted by states or local jurisdictions.  The IGCC addresses multiple aspects of the green building process in relation to the overall construction project, including the administrative process, plan review and approval, and enforcement procedures.

The IGCC includes provisions relating to multiple aspects of the project, including: (1) Site Development and Land Use; (2) Material Resource Conservation and Efficiency; (3) Energy Conservation, Efficiency and Atmospheric Quality; (4) Water Resource Conservation and Efficiency; (5) Indoor Environmental Quality and Comfort; and (6) Commissioning, Operation and Maintenance.  Further, the IGCC is not limited to new construction, and it includes provisions relating directly to renovations of existing buildings.

In August 2010, the town of Richland, Washington, became the first local government to adopt the IGCC.  Now Rhode Island becomes the first state to adopt the IGCC.  According to a press release from the ICC, Rhode Island has adopted the IGCC as “an equivalent standard in compliance with requirements that all public agency major facility projects be designed and constructed as green buildings.”

Wide-spread adoption of the IGCC or other green building codes may not happen immediately, but the emergence of this type of code presents yet another major development in the evolution of green building.  For example, green building codes signify a shift in philosophy, from the more voluntary nature of green building rating systems (such as LEED) to the mandatory aspect of code-required, minimum obligations for all project participants.