ConfusedI have spent just over a year thinking about the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).  I know it has been one year because I received my first copy of the code at Greenbuild 2010.  My conclusion today about the code is no different than it was one year ago: 

The IgCC is unnecessarily confusing. 

Take, for instance, the IgCC’s basic setup — it’s two codes in one.  Apparently, trying to figure out one set of building codes is not enough.  Within the IgCC, jurisdictions have the option of adopting either the IgCC code or ASHRAE 189.1.  Yes, I know that that sentence does not make sense, but it is correct. 

Other aspects of the IgCC create more confusion.  Not only does it include mandatory code provisions, but it also contains electives that can be selected by a jurisdiction and a project team.  Why would the code writers have included electives in a mandatory building code?  One theory I have heard is that the code writers wanted to mimic the elective credits in the LEED rating system.

I support the creation of a green building code.  Too many jurisdictions were mandating the LEED rating system as a de facto building code.  The IgCC was an attempt to fill that void with a system more appropriately suited to a building code.  However, the current version of the IgCC will create unnecessary confusion that will result in the following: 

  • Building inspectors will struggle to learn to enforce a complicated building code that changes with each project depending on the electives selected.  This will result in inconsistent building code rulings.
  • Design and construction professionals will have to comply with different building codes depending on the jurisdiction.  This means that professionals may have to learn more than one building code to do work in two adjacent communities. 
  • Insurance and surety companies will struggle to ensure the risks associated with confusing green building codes.  I have already heard one large insurance company state that the adoption of green building codes will change the standard of care for design professionals going forward. 

What do you think of the International Green Construction Code?