Three Green Building Developments to Watch in 2012

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

In the Indiana General Assembly, it was not an overly productive year for sustainability legislation, as efforts to enact laws for PACE bonds and mass transit both failed to gain traction.  Regardless, from a broader perspective, we are not even two full months into 2012, and already this year appears to be shaping up to be a big year for green building and sustainability—at least in some respects.  Consider the following developments on the horizon in the green building industry:

On March 1, the third public comment period will open for the next iteration of the LEED rating system, dubbed LEED 2012.  What will LEED 2012 bring in terms of changes?  For starters, we may be looking at new credits for “Integrative Process”, “Location and Transportation”, and “Performance”, not to mention a rebalancing of existing credits.   Time will tell what changes make the final cut for LEED 2012.  For more information check out the USGBC’s website on the LEED 2012 Development process.

  • Also sometime in March, the International Code Council (ICC) is expected to publish its 2012 International Green Construction Code (IgCC).  Will the IgCC become the model green building code for states and local jurisdictions?  Will the IgCC, and green building codes in general, have any negative impact on the number of projects utilizing voluntary green building rating systems, such as LEED?  Check out the ICC’s website for more information, and keep a look out on this blog for more updates on the IgCC in the coming weeks.
  • After releasing its Guide for Sustainable Projects in 2011, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is expected to release updated versions of some of its contract forms to include processes and provisions for sustainable project goals.  This is a significant development, especially given the large number of owners, contractors and design professionals who still do not adequately address sustainable project goals in their project contracts.  The AIA indicates that the contract documents will be available in the first quarter of 2012.


The impact of these developments will depend, in no small part, on how fast the construction industry can turn things around as it emerges from a prolonged period of economic difficulty.  In addition, it will be interesting to see whether (and how quickly) states and local jurisdictions are willing to adopt the IgCC, and how these jurisdictions may use and adapt the IgCC to suit their needs.  Further, questions remain as to whether the states and corporations who have thus far been “slow adopters” finally make this the year to initiate broader sustainability policies for design, construction, purchasing, maintenance, and operation of their properties and facilities, or whether they continue to take a “wait and see” approach due to economic conditions.

So will 2012 be a big year for the green building industry?  We will “wait and see” ourselves, and continue to update you on these developments.