Depth, Breadth & Height of the International Green Building Code

what is LEED

How do I love thee, green building? Is it as LEED or ASHRAE 189.1 or the International Green Building Code (IgCC)?I love thee to the depth (sub-soil) and breadth (building site) and height (building) my green soul can reach.

So many green codes and so little time. Did we really need the IgCC when the LEED voluntary rating system sets the green bar code at the highest level and ASHRAE 189.1 is referenced as an alternative compliance path in the International Green Construction Code? The answer is a simple: Yes.

Most likely you have heard of the IgCC since it was published the end of March 2012 by the International Construction Council. Green hearts soar with love when they learn this overlay model building code represents a cooperative effort between the USGBC, ASHRAE, AIA, ASTM International, and the Illuminating Engineering Society. What sets this love affair with green building codes on fire is that it allows jurisdictions (read: state and local governments) to voluntarily adopt the code, and once they do, the code provisions become enforceable minimum standards for new and existing buildings.

The IgCC is a comprehensive code and its provisions are quite recognizable to anyone involved in the design and construction of green residential and commercial buildings and building sites. The IgCC also includes standards for alterations and repairs to existing buildings and sites. In the code are provisions for all sustainable practices, including rainwater collection, heat island mitigation, materials waste diversion from landfills, protection of native vegetation, daylighting, energy efficiency, minimization of VOCs produced by building materials, and so much more. However, what makes this code different is that jurisdictions adopting the IgCC can also set the bar above minimum requirements by choosing any of a number of electives promoting higher performance standards, making them enforceable, too.

Give the Code a Hug

You can love the IgCC and then show the depth of your love by embracing its many electives. Electives are in areas like stormwater management and light pollution control. The IgCC is an overlay code and does not replace any particular existing code and cannot be compared line by line with any of them (so don’t try). For commissioning, there is a prescriptive path for certain code requirements or a modelled performance path.

Should you love LEED or IgCC more?  Actually, you can be a fickle lover and love them both equally because they are both designed to promote the sustainability of natural resources. IgCC complements LEED.  As a voluntary rating system, LEED promotes cutting-edge green building design so that performance is at the highest levels. IgCC, once adopted by jurisdictions, sets minimum standards for green design, building, operations and maintenance. The USGBC was one of the sponsors participating in the development of the IgCC and encourages jurisdictions to adopt IgCC to ensure green enforceable building codes are in place.

A Sweet Deal

So this is a sweet deal because there is now something here for everyone anxious to implement sustainable building practices. The next step is to learn how to love the IgCC, and that is why we have developed a course that gives an overview of the provisions. GBRI has culled through the IgCC and highlighted its many standards and electives. The course will be available on demand February 25, 2013.

Have you heard of the IgCC and does your jurisdiction need enforceable minimum green code standards? If so, this could be the start of a great love affair…

Click Here to Register

  • Carolina  October 15, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Great post Ryan, and very timely for me too. I just relentcy decided that I want to pursue getting a Green Associate at least. [Kicking myself for not doing this a few years back and being a legacy AP]. Maybe we can share study tips!


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