The development of national model green building codes and standards has become a dominant focus in the regulatory arena today. Multiple code documents are now available or are scheduled for completion before the end of 2011, and consideration of these model codes by local and state regulators is accelerating.
Yet troubling questions about the impacts of mandatory green building regulations on at risk U. S. commercial real estate markets and our fragile economic recovery remain unanswered.
ASHRAE 189.1-2009 Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings, developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers in cooperation with the U.S. Green Building Council and the Illuminating Engineering Society, covers all buildings except low-rise residential buildings, and includes renovations and additions to existing buildings. It is not a design guide or rating system (such as LEED or Green Globes) but is instead written in mandatory language intended for adoption and enforcement.
189.1 provides simple compliance paths and more flexible performance options for these six sustainability elements:
- Energy and water conservation and efficiency (including renewable energy systems)
- Land use and development
- Indoor environmental quality
- Impact on the atmosphere, materials, and resources
- Adaptation of existing buildings
- Post-occupancy building commissioning and operations planning.
BOMA's involvement in the initial development of Standard 189.1 resulted in more workable and cost effective provisions, trade-offs for renewable energy, and consideration of basic business investment principles. We are also involved in the ongoing development of 189.1, with representation on the continuous maintenance project committee. The current work plan calls for the publication of a 2011 interim edition as well as the next regularly scheduled edition (2013). Many advanced system provisions have already been proposed to the committee and BOMA will work with other commercial real estate interests to ensure inclusion of design, component, and system options that best meet the needs of building owners.
Similar to other green building codes, Standard 189.1 is not intended to apply to all projects nor is it designed to replace current energy, building, mechanical, and other codes that set the baseline for all construction. It is instead meant to reach beyond minimum requirements to mandate significant reductions in energy use, major emphasis on the use of renewable energy systems, stringent water conservation provisions, and extensive building owner and operator education to ensure future efficiencies are realized.
Of critical importance – and unlike current minimum codes in widespread adoption – 189.1 was developed without specific consideration of the additional costs of these measures and therefore the economic impacts of mandatory implementation are not well known.
ICC 700-2008 National Green Building Standard, developed collaboratively by the International Code Council (ICC) and the National Association of Home Builders, covers residential occupancies including detached and attached single family homes, low and high-rise multifamily buildings, hotels and motels, and renovations and additions to existing residential buildings.
Like ASHRAE 189.1, ICC 700 is not a design guide or rating system, is written in code mandatory language intended for adoption and enforcement, and provides both simple compliance paths and more flexible performance options in requirements for similar sustainability elements. Four levels of compliance are also provided, allowing achievement of basic entry-level green building up to the highest level of sustainable construction incorporating energy savings of 60% or higher.
Like ASHRAE 189.1, Standard 700 is not intended to apply to all projects nor is it designed to replace current minimum codes. It was also developed without specific consideration of the additional costs and the associated economic impacts of mandatory implementation.
BOMA was involved in the initial development of ICC 700 to ensure the viability, practicality, and cost-effectiveness of multi-family provisions as they impact mixed-use projects. We are also involved in the current efforts to update the 2008 standard with the next edition slated for publication sometime before the end of 2012.
International Green Construction Code (IgCC)
Developed as a cooperative project between ICC, the American Institute of Architects, and the American Society for Testing and Materials, Draft Version 2.0 of the IgCC is currently in the final stages of development in 2011. It is subject to a code change process including a Public Hearing in May and a Final Action Hearing in November. Once that process is complete, the first edition (2012) of the IgCC will be available along with the other 2012 ICC codes early next year.
The IgCC and ASHRAE 189.1 apply to the same buildings and projects. Like 189.1, IgCC is not a guide or rating system, is written in code mandatory language intended for adoption and enforcement, and provides both simple compliance paths and more flexible performance options. It also encompasses the same sustainability elements found in 189.1 and is not intended to apply to all projects or designed to replace current minimum codes. Importantly, the IgCC references Standard 700 for residential construction and ASHRAE 189.1 as an alternative compliance path for commercial projects.
of a green
building code without careful
consideration of the possible
damage to the
local economy can produce
The Race to Green
State and local governments throughout the country are racing to "get green", and nothing exemplifies that more than the rush to implement green building regulations. However, adoption of a green building code without careful consideration of the possible damage to the local economy can produce disastrous results. In a disturbing trend, several jurisdictions are considering adoption of the Draft IgCC – a particularly unwise move given the code has not been fully vetted in the ICC consensus process and will almost certainly be extensively modified as over a 1,000 code change proposals are considered in 2011.
It is critical that city and state officials demand that any green building code under consideration be subject to a cost/benefit analysis before consideration of enactment to at least determine if compliance will negatively impact construction activity, lease rates, the tax base, and future development and economic growth. Without that, it is impossible to know or predict the economic impact on the government and the businesses operating within their jurisdictions.
Ron Burton (email@example.com) is vice president of Codes, Standards & Regulatory Affairs at BOMA International. James Cox (firstname.lastname@example.org) is director of State and Local Affairs at BOMA. For more information on BOMA, visit www.boma.org.