What is the International Green Construction Code?


At this point, you may be wondering, why do we need an International Green Construction Code when we have LEED? LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the world's top program for guiding the design, construction, maintenance and operation of green buildings. Run by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), there are LEED projects in every state of the U.S. and in 120 additional countries [source: Long].

While LEED and the IgCC have similar goals, LEED is a voluntary rating system. A property owner invites independent third parties to verify that a particular building, home or community was designed and built based on certain principles aimed at human and environmental health, such as energy efficiency and materials selection. Since no one is required to seek LEED certification, most property owners currently don't take the extra measures to do so.

By instituting the IgCC, the hope is that both programs will work in tandem to improve our environment. Ideally, the new IgCC will be widely adopted as a mandatory measure, assuring a basic level of sustainability in all commercial structures. Then, LEED can raise its voluntary certification standards even higher than current levels, thus advancing the field of sustainability [source: Melton].

Not surprisingly, LEED and the new IgCC aren't the only players in the green building movement. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), for example, released America's first set of green construction requirements in 1975 -- Standard 90 -- then built upon those with Standard 189.1. Unveiled in 2010, Standard 189.1 was a group effort by ASHRAE, the USGBC and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) that provided a total building sustainability package for those who wanted to construct green buildings. The ICC was aware of ASHRAE 189.1 and other measures when it developed the IgCC, designing the new code so that its provisions mesh with those in the other codes -- one reason why it has widespread support [source: Melton]. In fact, Standard 189.1 is now a compliance option in the IgCC.