The Maryland legislature has approved the use of the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) as a voluntary compliance alternative for public and private construction beginning in 2012. The IGCC bill (House Bill 972), sponsored by Delegate Dana Stein, passed the Senate unanimously and the House of Delegates with a 121 to 18 vote. The new law will go into effect in March 2012.
The IGCC was developed by the International Code Council (ICC), in association with ASTM International, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and the Green Building Initiative (GBI). The intent behind the development of the IGCC was that it be adopted by governmental units and administered by code officials as an overlay to the existing ICC family of codes, which includes the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The IGCC is applicable to commercial buildings, structures and systems, including existing buildings, and residential occupancies, other than low-rise residential, that fall within the scope of the International Residential Code (IRC).
While the IGCC is not a rating system, per se, it is designed to work in synch with existing voluntary rating systems and drive green building beyond the market segment that has already been transformed by those rating systems. It was created with the intent that code officials would implement and enforce its regulations on a mandatory basis and thereby create an overlay to the existing codes and regulations for new and existing buildings relating to energy and water efficiency, site impacts, owner accountability, waste stream strategies, and materials usage. The IGCC, in essence, sets the floor for green building, while allowing LEED and other third-party voluntary rating systems to continue to push the ceiling for extraordinary sustainable design and construction.
The most current iteration of the IGCC (Version 2.0) introduces a new concept, known as "project electives". This feature is designed to encourage pushing the limits of green building beyond the baseline established by the requirements of the code. Under the project electives format, jurisdictions adopting the IGCC may indicate a minimum number of project electives (up to 14) with which projects constructed within the jurisdiction must comply. The owner and designer must then select specific project electives (from a list of 60 electives) for their project in order to reach the minimum number selected by the jurisdiction.
In addition to the electives component, the IGCC allows jurisdictions the freedom to customize the code to address local environmental concerns (e.g. the Chesapeake Bay) and to respond to environmental political agendas.
It is important to note that HB 972 is enabling legislation and not a mandatory imposition of the IGCC on local governments. Under the legislation, local governments may adopt and amend, as appropriate, the most recent version of the IGCC. With a March 1, 2012 enactment date, code officials have significant lead time to review and tailor the IGCC to be suitable for each jurisdiction, should they elect to adopt the IGCC. In addition, developers who have projects in the pipeline for 2012 would be wise to keep a finger on the pulse of the local legislatures in order to provide adequate time to react to the IGCC requirements.