Three Green Building Developments to Watch in 2012: The 6 Month Check Up

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

At the beginning of this year (posted here), I highlighted three green building developments to watch in 2012: (1) the continued development of LEED 2012; (2) the planned release of the 2012 International Green Construction Code (IgCC); and (3) the planned release of new AIA contract forms for sustainable project goals.  Now that we are nearly six months into the year, it is time to check up on those three developments to see where they stand.

  • LEED 2012 is dead, but LEED v4 is alive.  After going through the third and fourth public comment periods for LEED 2012, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced on June 4 that it is delaying ballot on LEED 2012 until June 1, 2013.  Since LEED 2012 will no longer be released in calendar year 2012, the USGBC has also renamed this new iteration “LEED v4”.  What are the reasons for the delay?  Rick Fedrizzi (President, CEO, and Founding Chairman of the USGBC) says that as the USGBC has gone through the public comment process for LEED 2012, “we have heard repeatedly that while our [LEED] community continues to fully embrace our mission, they need more time to absorb the changes we’re proposing and to get their businesses ready to take the step with us.”  However, in recent days, there also have been questions raised from the chemical industry about LEED 2012’s proposed credit for avoiding “chemicals of concern” (including PVC), which concerns were voiced in a letter signed by fifty-six (56) members of Congress to GSA, urging GSA to stop using the LEED rating system unless these proposed credits were not reconsidered or removed by the USGBC.  We likely have not heard the last of the reasons for the delay in releasing the newest version of LEED, but one thing is clear: LEED 2012 is gone, and green building professionals should now focus on the newly named LEED v4.
  • The IgCC is here. Will it gain momentum?  In March, the International Code Council (ICC) released its final version of the 2012 International Green Construction Code (IgCC).  As I explained in a prior post here, the IgCC is a model code intended for adoption by state or local jurisdictions.  It provides baseline code provisions for jurisdictions that want to mandate certain green building requirements, and it is a departure from other forms of legislation that have been based on LEED or other green building rating systems, in that it is solely administered and enforced by the adopting jurisdiction—not a third-party certification body.  The ICC reports that several states and local jurisdictions have already adopted the IgCC in some form, most commonly the form of a voluntary compliance path for other, already existing green building programs.  We will continue to monitor the IgCC to see how—and in what form—jurisdictions adopt the IgCC this year.
  • AIA announces new contract forms for sustainable project goals with a press release quoting…me.  This past year, I had the opportunity to review the draft forms of the new AIA contract forms for sustainable project goals, as well as to submit comments, proposed revisions, and questions.  These contract forms are predominantly based on the model contract language outlined in the AIA D503-2011 Guide for Sustainable Projects (discussed here).   AIA released the final forms for these contracts during its national convention on May 17, and I was honored to be part of the press release from AIA announcing the release of these new contract forms.  The new contract language dealing with sustainable project goals clearly fills a void that was present in the prior AIA contract forms.  For example, in the 2007 version of the contracts, LEED was only mentioned as (1) an additional service for Architects; and (2) as part of the B214-2007 LEED addendum to the Owner-Architect agreement.  Prior versions of the contracts did not include language involving sustainable project goals for contractors, subcontractors, or in the general conditions for the project.  I will discuss these new contract forms in more depth in a future post, but for project participants involved in projects with any type of sustainability goals, strong consideration should be given to using these new contract forms to more thoroughly address sustainable project goals in the contract documents.