Manager, Building Codes Advocacy
U.S. Green Building Council
I spent a little more than two days in Dallas this week at the public hearings for the International Green Construction Code. You, too, can tune in and watch them online. You may want to have the reference material handy and – unless you find this stuff as interesting as I do – some toothpicks for your eyelids and a big cup of coffee.
The hearings run from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and are scheduled to last through Sunday. The debate has been split into two concurrent groups – energy & water and everything else. If you’re more casually interested in diving into some of the code’s subject matter in greater depth, tune into the Green Building Law Update’s series on the IGCC.
The International Code Council’s code development process allows any I-Code to be publicly scrutinized and debated. This week’s hearings are battling some very tough questions as the second version of the IGCC is revised one last time prior to November where the ICC’s government membership will have the final say.
The good news is that by and large the Committees (General and Energy/Water) are honing in on a more finalized version of the code’s content. Their decisions seem to be generally following both the momentum of previous IGCC development decisions and reasonable written and verbal testimony from the building community. This means the outcome at the end of this week should be (in theory) even more buttoned up and increasingly responsive to the community’s input. [See here for a running list of results, but be forewarned: it’s code… in code].
The challenge with hearings like these is that the process lends itself to siloed and sequential up or down decisions about a code that necessarily needs to be integrated. ICC staff will clean up many of the loose ends, but it’s very clear that a set of much bigger philosophical questions is still yet undecided:
- If the IGCC is to provide regulatory language that raises the floor for all buildings, what should or should not be included in its scope?
- How do we define and address the many attributes of green buildings that are still foreign territory for the majority of the audience of this code?
- And the biggest elephant in the room: How stringent should a first-ever model green construction code be?