Green-Building Regulations on the Horizon

06/27/2007 | By Ron Burton

The steamroller effect the green-building movement has had on the real estate industry over the past several years has been truly amazing. Even more remarkable, this turnaround in how we think about, design, build, and operate buildings has been fueled for the most part by forces within the real estate industry rather than regulations imposed from the outside by federal, state, or local governments. But, that's about to change as numerous green-building standards are currently under development and mandatory regulations are not far behind.

Voluntary programs, such as the U.S. EPA's ENERGY STAR® program, the U. S. Green Building Council's LEED certification and rating system, the Green Building Initiative's Green Globes program, numerous local voluntary green building programs, and other initiatives designed to affect changes using "market-incentive" strategies have provided the structure for the changes in green-building practices to date. These initiatives, along with programs like BOMA's Building Energy Efficiency Program (BEEP), have also provided the training and education for real estate professionals to successfully integrate green-building initiatives within their own operations.

The federal government, as well as many states and local communities throughout the country, have recently initiated programs intended to green the public building stock; however, very few communities have shown any inclination to enact regulations to require privately held buildings to be designed and built in compliance with green-building protocols. That will start to change once the development of green-building standards is completed sometime early in 2008, providing the basis for a regulatory structure to impose green-building requirements. Most of these standards are written specifically for adoption by state and local governments as mandatory requirements for construction permits and for compliance with building codes and other regulations governing new and existing buildings.

Three standards are currently under development under the auspices of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), including efforts by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in cooperation with the U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in cooperation with the Intl. Code Council (ICC) and the Green Building Initiative. A fourth standard is under development by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Each of these efforts covers specific segments of the commercial and residential building industry.

ASHRAE/USGBC/IESNA Green Building Standard 189
ASHRAE serves as the Secretariat for this standard development process, which is intended to cover all commercial (non-residential) buildings. This standard targets new construction only, but includes new building projects, tenant finish-out in new and existing buildings, additions to existing buildings, and major remodeling projects. The document is planned as an ANSI standard suitable for adoption as code regulation at the city, state, or other jurisdictional level and is based on the USGBC's LEED rating system.

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