Code Green, Part 1: Green Building Materials and Resources in the “Mother of All Green Codes”

For ten years has advocated for green buildings. Right now, an open, consensus process is underway that will shape how we define and achieve green buildings for the next several years. So, we bring it to your attention. This year, the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) is being updated by the International Code Council (ICC) with input from any and all interested stakeholders, like you. As one of our 5,000 regular monthly visitors interested in green buildings, we hope you will support our efforts to achieve a high-quality, workable, state-of-the-art model green building code. If you know any designers, builders or code officials, you’ll want to let them know about this important issue.

Model building codes are the agreed template, developed by experts that set the rules to build safe energy efficient buildings. When adopted, they become city-wide or state-wide requirements for buildings—in this code, a measuring stick to be called a green building. In our last post, we told you about the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and why Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs informed by rigorous life cycle analyses) should be recognized as ONE OPTION of many “materials and resources pathways” to compliance in the new version of the IgCC.

So, what’s the current state of material and resource pathways in this internationally recognized green construction code?

lcaThe existing version of the IgCC now up for revision, overly emphasizes “single attributes” of a material such as, whether it contains recycled content or is bio-based or made near the project site. Focusing on a single-attribute of a materialmisses the bigger picture of how a material helps OR can impact the environment. It may be easier and quicker to use the single attributes as “a box to check off” but, it will likely miss the true in-depth environmental impacts of a given material. We can do better.

Fortunately there is a mature industry mechanism in the building industry that can offer verifiable, third-party reviewed, environmental impact assessments through the use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). These assessments of a product are called Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), and they capture a bigger picture than just a single attribute of the material. We’ll tell you why it works so well for the IgCC soon. For now—The current state of the code needs EPDs as an additional OPTION for compliance.

For our next “Code Green” blog series post, we’ll discuss this proposed optional compliance pathway in the IgCC and what it means for the future of green buildings everywhere. Stay tuned!

» Code Green, Part 2: Understanding Compliance Pathways In The IgCC