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091010 AIA Realizes Significant Accomplishments at August IgCC Green Code Hearings
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AIA Realizes Significant Accomplishments at August IgCC Green Code Hearings

by Jessyca Henderson, AIA
AIA Director of Sustainability Advocacy

The recently completed International Green Construction Code (IgCC) public hearings, held Aug. 14-22 in Chicago, Ill., saw unprecedented success for AIA in a number of key areas.

First a little background. AIA has played an important role not only in the creation of the IgCC, the first green building code, but the refinement of that code to date. The value that AIA brings to this stage is clearly evidenced by the fact that four of the fifteen members on the IgCC committee are there officially representing the AIA.

During the recent hearings in Chicago, there were numerous opportunities for the AIA to act as a facilitator for coalescing interests and issues. AIA representatives were approached to participate in preliminary discussions with industry stakeholders, including manufacturers and professional associations, and quickly became the touchstone and de facto leader for managing several issues related to the energy provisions in the IgCC.

These issues included major shifts in the code such as an outcome-based approach to energy efficiency as well as relying on the decisions expected from the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) hearing this fall for prescriptive envelope requirements in lieu of development of a new "reach" table for the IGCC. AIA shares concern with the industry that multiple prescriptive paths lead to duplication of efforts and confusion.

At the IgCC public hearing, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the New Buildings Institute (NBI) have stated they are committed to working cooperatively with AIA to develop the final outcome procedure and metric. To that end, the AIA will host a summit in November in Washington, DC, to craft a proposal for the “performance path” to the next version of IgCC. Prior to submission to the ICC, that proposal will be vetted with our members and industry stakeholders. Building material interests have agreed to work with AIA to set the green threshold for prescriptive criteria above the IECC. Issues that remain unresolved that are opportunities for AIA to take the lead on include clarifying the code on the “overlay code” concept and specific guidance on the application of the IgCC to existing buildings.

A total of 1,500 comments regarding the IgCC were submitted to ICC for consideration and the AIA National Component submitted 85. Among 190 comments from AIA members were those from individual members, the AIA Codes and Standards Committee, the Texas Society of Architects, and the Rhode Island Chapter. AIA Honolulu also worked with AIA National to address concerns they had with Public Version 1.0 of the code on behalf of their component members. All told, AIA's Codes and Standards Committee and AIA members provided comments comprising approximately 15% of the comments heard. Many of AIA's comments were effectively implemented and endorsed by the committee.

Because of the Institute’s strong efforts to show commitment and dedication to the technical and professional practice issues associated with the IgCC, AIA has been recognized as taking the lead in resolving these issues by many of the leaders within the construction industry as well as the IgCC public review committee. AIA has an unprecedented opportunity to exhibit our broad understanding of important issues and to bring about positive resolution. Universally, AIA was called upon, directly and by name by the IgCC public review committee to provide the leadership for many interests to resolve the outstanding questions. Forging ahead with the final steps in the development of the IgCC will require a significant and concerted effort.

Energy is not the only area in which AIA intends to take the lead on improving the IgCC.

The IgCC, assuming it is adopted and put into effect across the country, will have a broad impact upon the practice of architecture. There will be a number of specific responsibilities for architects built into the IGCC. These will occur throughout the normal design process and will also extend into pre- and post-occupancy activities such as commissioning and into ongoing building operations. While it is appropriate that architects take on this work, these new responsibilities will present both opportunities and potential problems for architects. Properly addressed, these responsibilities will allow for effective and profitable actions for architects by placing them at the center of a green design revolution. If not properly addressed and acted upon by architects, these new responsibilities can become an unfunded mandate where architects could be held liable for things they only partially control.

Working with experts in the field of risk management and professional liability, the AIA will closely examine the impacts of the green code on the profession and propose appropriate changes to the code to protect the interests of members. The AIA also has an opportunity to get ahead of contractual issues facing the profession by developing a suite of documents focused on green building practices. While changes in the regulatory arena historically have had a direct impact on the content and enforceability of contract documents, the landscape is dramatically changing due to the influx of green standards and codes into the marketplace.

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