Green Building Code Proposed in Washington DC is a National Model


The final vote of the District of Columbia’s Construction Codes Coordinating Board on the Green Construction Code (and all of the new construction codes) occurred recent and are being transmitted to the Mayor’s office. The Mayor will submit the codes to the DC Council for adoption.

The new Green Code is significant, not only for those constructing or renovating buildings within DC, but because it portends a new green regulatory scheme that may well be a national model.

DC is proposing to adopt its first Green Construction Code, which would be mandatory for all commercial projects greater than 10,000 square feet and all multi-family residential construction four stories or larger. The Green Code would apply to new construction and major renovations.

Significantly, there will be alternative compliance paths for privately owned building to satisfy DC’s Green mandate:

1. LEED at a Certified level or higher, or

2. IgCC compliance, or

3. ASHRAE 189.1-2011 compliance, or

4. Enterprise Green Communities verified.

Additionally, all non residential new building projects greater than 10,000 square feet must also satisfy 75 points on the Energy Star Target Finder Tool which correlates to performing at a minimum better than 75% of similar buildings across the country.

Moreover, all new building projects are required to comply with the ICC International Energy Conservation Code 2012 (another of the codes proposed for adoption) which in and of itself results in a high performance building.

The Green Construction Code as currently proposed is available at this link. Amendments are likely as the DC Council is expected to vote on the Green Code before the end of 2013 with an early 2014 effective date.

DC was a leader in 2006 requiring new privately constructed buildings meet LEED standards and it is again at the forefront with a regulatory scheme of alternative compliance paths for high performance building. For those who wish to pursue LEED that option remains. However, many private buildings will likely select IgCC compliance as the preferred compliance path. That said, the final analysis of LEED versus IgCC versus ASHRAE 189.1 may be skewed by what the GSA ultimately determines is the federal government’s preferred high performance building type.

Article by Stuart Kaplow, appearing courtesy Green Building Law Update.



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