In March 2012, the International Code Council — America’s foremost building code writing body — is scheduled to release the International Green Construction Code™ (IGCC). If released in its current form, the IGCC will provide state and local governments, for the first time, with a “model code” to require new and existing commercial buildings to reduce their energy usage and carbon footprints and to minimize the adverse impacts that building construction and operations have on the environment. In April, 2011, Maryland became the first state to authorize adoption of the IGCC by local governments. More state and local governments can be expected to follow Maryland’s lead given the IGCC’s integration with the other ICC codes that state and local governments already trust and have in place and the ability of local officials to “customize” its provisions to a jurisdiction’s particular climate— both environmental and political.
This White Paper will introduce the IGCC and identify some of the provisions that, if adopted, will most significantly impact the ownership, development and operation of commercial real estate. At a minimum, interested stakeholders should keep close watch on the final form the IGCC takes and to what extent the particular jurisdictions in which they develop, own or operate commercial real estate are pursuing its adoption. Given its potential impact, stakeholders also may want to consider developing a strategy for educating the local officials that will be charged with tailoring the IGCC to their particular community’s environmental needs and objectives before final decisions at the local level are made. Unless the most appropriate choices are made from among the many the IGCC requires local governments to make, stakeholders risk the adoption of code provisions that increase a project’s cost and complexity without necessarily improving its sustainability.
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