Green Building Associations Working to Align Standards 4

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
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Several groups that work for sustainable buildings are collaborating on aligning green building codes and standards. The International Code Council (ICC), the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES), and ASHRAE are now collaborating on the next editions of the the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), ASHRAE Standard 189.1, and the LEED standard.

The collaborative work will result in a streamlined application of the code, said IES director of technology Rita Harrold.

“Different partners have different strengths,” Harrold said. “Our organizations working together will result in harmonization of technical, administrative and compliance expertise to produce a single green code, simplifying the choice among design and code options for the using community.”

The IES is an industry group composed of lighting manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers, designers, architects, consultants, electrical and building contractors, as well as people working with lighting through government, education, utilities, and energy services.

International Code Council (ICC) chief executive officer Dominic Sims noted that the collaborative process “will make it easier for owners, designers, builders and code officials to deliver sustainable, high-performing buildings.”

The ICC, with help from cooperating sponsors AIA and ASTM International, develops the International Green Construction Code. Goals for the IgCC include creating more sustainable buildings by reducing buildings’ energy usage and carbon footprint, preserving natural and material resources, and creating healthy spaces.

ASHRAE represents heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration engineers. Its members “focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability within the industry,” according to the group’s web site. The group is currently revising Standard 189.1.

“We are working to align new versions of Standard 189.1—the Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings—and the IgCC into one regulatory tool,” said ASHRAE president Tom Phoenix. “This agreement also seeks to align the LEED program with the new code to ensure a streamlined, effective set of regulatory and above-code options for jurisdictions across the country.”

Similarly, the US Green Building Council’s LEED standard will more closely align with other standards after a cooperative revision.

“This partnership leverages the unique strengths of world class organizations collaborating in an unprecedented way,” said USGBC chief of engineering Brendan Owens. “Building designers and operators know the benefits of integrated design and planning very well—we’ve taken our cue from them and will create a system where the whole is substantially more effective than the sum of its individual parts.”

According to the ICC, codes and standards are related but distinct. Codes are enacted by a state or municipality to regulate building construction, and “contain references to standards to specify requirements for a particular material or method.”

Standards, in contrast, are created by industry groups to “address the standardized approach to a test method, construction material, or material design method.”

“Sharing resources will help reach the goal of environmentally friendly structures that reduce the carbon footprint and lessen energy consumption,” said ICC board of directors president Guy Tomberlin. “With increased demand for sustainable buildings, this joint effort will have a major impact on creating more green buildings.”

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  1. Al Good

    Most office buildings use forced air heating and cooling. If each vent had a manual damper that the employee in the office (or in an area) could control, all employees would be more comfortable and it would save energy.

    In the summer, cold employees could shut their vents, increasing the pressure in the main duct and blowing more air on hot employees. When enough employees close their vents, pressure sensors would reduce fan speed.
    A single thermostat in a common area with a constant-flow vent would lower or stop the air conditioner compressors when the temperature at that location is too cold. The air flow fans would continue to blow. As employees open their vents, less air would blow on the thermostat, which would kick on the AC.

    The same would work for heating in the winter.

    No one would ever need little space heaters in an over-airconditioned building because they could control their own environment.

    The only costs for new buildings would be for replacing undampered vents with dampered vents (about $8 per vent), and for the pressure sensors and multi-speed fans. You would eliminate multiple thermostats and controls.
    Continued next comment.

  2. Al Good

    I have never seen an office building designed using this simple system. I am a civil engineer. I would like to see a mechanical/HVAC engineers cost/benefit analysis for new buildings and retrofit of existing buildings.

  3. Al Good

    The analysis, of course, would depend on the behavior of employees with control of the airflow in their own offices, which may be difficult to predict. An empirical analysis, for example retrofitting a smaller building (maybe 2 stories, 70 offices and one large open area with a few vents) may provide the data needed.

  4. Craig Tyler

    This process is not as streamlined as the author makes it out to be. IgCC and other Buidling Codes have public hearings to add to the existing code or make modifications. The LEED Rating System is a closed, private, group which does not accept or solicit information from the public. "Aligning" IgCC, LEED and ASHRAE 189.1 is going to be a battle to say the least. Good luck to all involved.