There has been a lot of buzz and controversy surrounding green codes, and with good reason. In more than 40 years of contemporary green construction, green architects, builders and engineers have had few resources for making sure their projects were within code. Many sustainable materials and techniques were out of the books, and property owners and contractors relied on getting through the zoning and building process with understanding on the part of building officials. As time passed, many regions of the United States developed their own councils and plans to speed the green building industry, and their grassroots efforts and local documentations have been very successful.
As the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) is pending revisions and approval in 2011, with planned publication by the International Code Council in 2012, it isn't clear yet which states will adopt the new green rules as mandatory for commercial as well as residential building. Commercial guidelines may roll out as mandatory, but whether the residential portions will be required or optional is uncertain.
If you're looking to build a sustainable home, before entering the maze of code-speak, look into your city, county and state building councils and see what building codes are currently in use. Librarians, college architecture programs and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) directories may be helpful in finding these resources and in taking the next step in locating a certified green building professional. Most builders can find their way around the current baseline local codes, but a specialist in green building will know how to work with what isn't in the codes for green construction.
No more code talk, but more green reads, on the next page.