Even the most environmentally conscious concrete producer might cringe at the thought of green building practices becoming mandatory. That's just what the International Code Council (ICC) proposes to do with its International Green Construction Code (IGCC) for new and existing buildings.

The new code consists of minimum requirements for high-performance structures—material conservation, energy efficiency, waste reduction, and site impact—in standard ICC format. It acts as an overlay to existing ICC codes, similar to the International Energy Conservation Code.

“Other rating systems and standards didn't appear to be well-coordinated with language used in the I-Codes. That makes them difficult for our members to enforce and apply,” says Allan Bilka, senior staff architect with ICC. “Once they're familiar with green requirements, it should be much more effective for building officials to review plans and do inspections in the field.”

Producers who have participated in voluntary certification programs, such the U.S. Green Building Council's (US-GBC) LEED and The Green Building Initiative's (GBI) Green Globes rating systems, will find the code's requirements familiar.

In fact, USGBC, along with the American Institute of Architects, ASTM International, and others, helped develop the new code, which is intended to be a natural next step for communities that want to require green building provisions. “The only way to affect widespread change is through mandatory requirements,” Bilka says. “The trick is having something that is usable and adaptable by jurisdictions. IGCC is customizable because green is not a one-size-fits-all strategy.”

Good for one area, but not another

Cities and states that adopt the IGCC can adapt it to meet local environmental or political concerns.

The code's jurisdictional requirements account for strategies that may be unique to certain areas, such as requiring buildings to be built near public transit. Project electives are more ambitious goals that would not be appropriate as mandatory requirements, such as brownfield projects.

Steve Szoke, director of codes and standards for the PCA, contributed to the IGCC on behalf of the concrete industry. He notes the code has limitations that may hinder its enforcement. “The document is very ambitious,” he says. “Governing agencies will be best served by adopting specific sections, rather than the entire thing.”

Szoke encourages producers to engage local decision-makers, and to share PCA's alternative High Performance Building Requirements for Sustainability. The compilation of modifications and amendments to ICC's International Building Code includes provisions for durability, disaster resistance, and other areas in which concrete contributes to sustainable design.

As of fall 2011 the IGCC was under final review. The 2012 code is scheduled to be published in March.

For more information, visit www.iccsafe.org/cs/IGCC and www.cement.org.

The International Green Construction Code (IGCC) includes mandatory sections, similar to USGBC's LEED requirements:

  • Site development and land use
  • Material resource conservation and efficiency
  • Energy conservation
  • Efficiency and atmospheric quality
  • Water resource conservation and efficiency
  • Indoor environmental quality and comfort
  • Commissioning, operations, and maintenance.

The “Materials Selection” guidelines (Section 503) require at least 55 percent of the total materials in each building project to be a combination of:

  • Used materials
  • Recycled content materials (at least 25 percent combined post-consumer and pre-consumer recovered material)
  • Recyclable materials (with a minimum recovery rate of 30 percent)
  • Bio-based materials
  • Indigenous materials (originating within 500 miles of the construction site).

Web Extras

International Green Construction Code
Read the latest version of International Code Council’s International Green Construction Code.

High Performance Building Requirements
Portland Cement Association’s High Performance Building Requirements for Sustainability.