The City of Rockville, Maryland has adopted the International Green Construction Code 2012 as mandatory for all commercial and multi family building. But what may be most telling about this enactment is that before the change in law the USGBC listed Rockville as having more LEED projects than any U.S. city with a population below 100,000 and Rockville is in Maryland, ranked number 2 among all states for LEED building per capita.

A bit of background is also necessary because Maryland’s third largest incorporated city is substantially built out and all development is redevelopment with most new construction being interior renovation or additions to existing building. And Rockville has had a mandatory green building law in place for years that was tied to LEED, hence the large number of LEED projects, many of which were Core & Shell or Commercial Interior projects in high rise buildings.

And while some observers expressed surprise that the City with all those LEED projects opted to repeal that mandate in favor of the IgCC effective July 1, 2015, no one is surprised that with all that green building experience, the local regulation enacting the IgCC is elegant. The City has a high energy efficiency threshold, adopting the IECC 2015 at the same time as adopting the IgCC 2012 (but not the IgCC 2015 which version is not approved for use by Maryland code officials). Some suggest the shift to the IgCC was a concern over the materials credits in LEED v4.

The green building regulation applies to new commercial or multi-unit residential buildings or additions greater than 7,500 gsf, or alterations of more than 50% of gsf if the altered area is at least 7,500 gsf, as well as alterations to existing one and two family dwellings and additions.

That said, the City’s website makes clear “The City is willing to consider alternative methods of compliance, such as other rating systems or building codes, so long as they are deemed equivalent in spirit and stringency to the rating system, code or program referenced. The applicant must demonstrate equivalency to the City and develop acceptable compliance documentation.”

Each plan submittal is required to demonstrate compliance with either the IgCC (as amended by the local regulation), or ASHRAE 189.1, or the National Green Building Standard (ICC 700-2012).

Prior to building permit, the applicant must provide the information required in IgCC Appendix A (project electives), an energy report, a waste management report, an indoor air quality management plan and commissioning plan, each demonstrating compliance with the IgCC. Prior to occupancy, the applicant must provide a commissioning report and letter certifying owner receipt of building operations and maintenance documents.

These somewhat burdensome requirements for projects, most of which could be characterized as renovations, should be viewed against the backdrop that the City is located within Montgomery County, a jurisdiction that also had a mandatory LEED law on the books and is in the process of eliminating the LEED requirement in favor of its own adoption of the IgCC. Additionally, Rockville is a suburb of Washington, DC which has its own mandatory green building law in which the IgCC is an option.

That the IgCC has not been widely adopted across the country makes this switch from LEED to the IgCC all the more compelling a case study for jurisdictions desiring to be green.

Lest one think that Rockville will not continue to be LEED friendly, the City is continuing its High Performance Building Tax Credit For Existing Buildings available for existing buildings achieving LEED EB O&M. Construction will be in accordance with the IgCC and application may be made effective one year after occupancy for an EB-OM based property tax credit up to $400,000 and the City anticipates integrating the LEED Dynamic Plaque into that tax credit program when it is reauthorized.

The IgCC is new in Rockville. The City does not yet have any space delivered under the new mandatory green code. But in a market that has demanded Class A Building be LEED Gold or better, there has been little, if any, push back to the new green code. Developers and building in Rockville may be ahead of many places across America in that they realize green building can save the planet and we all can profit from it.