Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Spring 2011 - (Page 30)

INNOVATION GREEN BUILDING CODES NEW REGULATORY APPROACHES SET SIGHTS ON COMPLIANCE FOR THE FUTURE By Jeremy Sigmon greenhouse gases, depletion of scarce resources, destruction of habitat, human health risks of inactive or at least indoor lifestyles—and the list goes on. These risks are large not only because they spawn from between the cracks of the very fabric of our built world, but also because they are cumulative and aggregate over time. This natural next step for codes and regulations is modern-day recognition of the code official – alongside licensed professionals – as a line of defense against some of the world’s greatest emerging threats to public health and safety. But as game-changing as that sounds (and it is), we need all the right levers working simultaneously to enable truly sustainable buildings and communities. PREVENTION IS KEY Codes and standards have, traditionally, been a response to avoiding outcomes that we do not want repeated. In order to prevent buildings from fire that had wreaked havoc on so many cities, we developed fire codes, and continue to update them with the most up-to-date building science. Building codes share a similar origin in preventing collapse and suffocation by setting minimum structural safety standards and requirements for adequate ventilation. Even today’s more forward-looking codes and standards – like accessibility codes, energy codes and green codes – have prevention as their primary focus: an important role for a code official, effectively the law enforcement officer for building construction. Just like in the classroom or on the highway, most of us make a best effort to follow the laws of the land (especially when there are penalties for non-compliance). But it is hard to get excited about following the rules. It is a watershed event, of course, that forward-looking ideas are being introduced as minimum code. As designed, both Standard 189.1 and the IGCC open wide the door for tried-and-tested technologies and methods that have been pioneered in green building rating systems such as LEED®. For example, Standard 189’s section requires 75 percent of roof area to have high-albedo surfaces unless the roof is otherwise committed to equipment, skylights, solar technology or vegetated surfaces. The current version of the IGCC includes provisions in Section 404.3 that require the same percentage of eligible roof area to be either vegetated or effectively white. But even as these new “stretch” codes are issued, a code remains a code: it is the minimum agreed-upon standard for how we all should build. It’s the most we can reasonably expect – a far cry from the best that we can possibly do. ENABLING POSITIVE OUTCOMES Beyond their inherent flexibility to determine credit pathways that match project goals with better building outcomes, green building rating systems like LEED have at their core an ability to challenge project teams to push the limits of what is possible, and to engage previously disconnected building industry stakeholders in making smart decisions. Since 1999, the LEED Green Building Rating System has been establishing and redefining leadership in green building design, construction, maintenance and operations. Rating systems move beyond the prevention of undesirable outcomes to enabling positive ones, naturally relying on codes and standards in the process. As such, the intentionally voluntary rating systems are best designed for use in two policy applications: as a basis for incentives for private sector construction to build beyond N ow that summer is in full swing, we are all hoping for a bit of calm and relaxation. But kicking off your shoes now may put you behind in the fast-paced green building policy race that has – month after month – continued to increase in speed and momentum since last year’s exciting launch of a new set of regulatory tools. The International Green Construction Code (IGCC) – which includes similarly intended Standard 189.1 – establishes a previously unimaginable framework for a code and regulatory approach to better building design, construction and renovation. The set of codes and standards address energy, water and resource efficiency; materials use and indoor air quality; and also provides code-intended language to address issues at the nexus of a building and its built and natural contexts. Importantly, this first-of-its-kind set of tools leverages the previously untapped code enforcement infrastructure to achieve greener building outcomes. In truth, the shift is actually quite powerful. When multiplied over and over in nearly every building across the land, the seemingly minute human and environmental health risks that green building rating systems – and now green building codes – intend to address are staggering: pollution of all types, escalating emissions from LIVING ARCHITECTURE MONITOR 30 SPRING 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Spring 2011

Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Spring 2011
Adaptation Through Innovation
Award-Winning Leader
Living Building Challenge Update
On the Roof With...
The Black Arts
Green Walls
Stormwater Policy
Root Repellent Standards
Growing Media
Green Building Codes
New Corporate Members
The GRP Turns Two
Professional Calendar
My First Year as a GRP

Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Spring 2011