Virginia Green Building Regulations: Avoid the Building Code

This past weekend, I spent a lot of time preparing a slideshow for the William & Mary Environmental Law & Policy Review Symposium, "It's Not Easy Being Green."  As you may recall, I will be presenting on green building regulations in Virginia.  Guess what we are going to discuss on Green Building Law Update this week?  That's right, green building regulations in Virginia. 

Hold on, stay with me. Virginia is actually a very interesting state for developing green building regulations. 

As you may recall, in the past, a reader asked how a Virginia city or county can regulate green building with the Dillon Rule in place.  The Dillon Rule essentially says this
"Municipal corporations have only those powers that are expressly granted . . . ." 
One power that is expressly not granted to municipal corporations (cities and counties) is the right to craft a building code:
“The Board is hereby directed and empowered to adopt and promulgate a Uniform Statewide Building Code. Such building code shall supersede the building codes and regulations of the counties [and] municipalities . . . .”
It is clear that Virginia cities and counties cannot require green building through a building code.  Such a building code would have to come from the state legislature.  But there are instances of Virginia cities creating green building regulations.  How do they do it?  I will explain on Wednesday. 

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Comments (6) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Christopher G. Hill - January 26, 2009 11:10 AM

I will be looking forward to your explanation. Thanks for keeping us VA folks in the loop!

Chris Cheatham - January 26, 2009 11:30 AM

Thanks Chris. I apologize for the annoying teaser but I didn't have a lot of time to put together posts this week.

Also, for all of the commenters out there, thanks for your great comments. My responses have been lacking, but I am back on the horse and will be responding to all of you! And I am going to go back and comment on the posts where I failed to previously.


Christopher G. Hill - January 27, 2009 10:09 AM

Not a problem. I know you are getting ready for your conference. Wish I could be there. If you are coming through RVA let me know.

LHahn - January 27, 2009 5:51 PM

It's great to see green building regulations at the state level. As we all know, green building will be a major issue during President Obama's admisistration. My client, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), has laid out their recommendations for the economic recovery package, and their Rebuild and Renew plan can create 1.6 million jobs for architects, designers, construction workers, etc. Learn more on the AIA's blog, The Angle (

Chris Cheatham - January 27, 2009 5:59 PM


Thanks for the comment! I will be sure to check out the AIA's plan. It is good to know the AIA has a blog addressing green building issues.

Check back on Friday as we are going to have a very special AIA related post. You may know what I am talking about...


orlando lamas - May 29, 2010 11:43 PM

Its Great that once again California is leading the way. As a state who's primary industry is construction, Florida should follow California's lead and push its Building Codes in a 'Green' direction. One good idea might be offering reduction in Building Code Violation Fines if the solution offers a green solution.

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