Well, it is starting to happen.  The International Code Council, drafters of the International Green Construction Code (the “IGCC”), have their first governmental adoption of the new IGCC.  The City Council for the tiny town of Richland, Washington (population 47,527) recently adopted the IGCC as part of an amendment to the Richland Municipal Code.  So significant was this “first” that Rick Weiland, CEO of the International Code Council, flew to Richland to address [and, no doubt, profusely praise and thank] the City Council on August 3.

Citing in Ordinance No. 11-10 that it “desires to promote green construction practices and sustainability . . . for both private development and for City projects . . .” the City Council adopted the IGCC as a non-mandatory addition to its Municipal Code.  According to the City’s press release of August 2, 2010, Richland Building Inspection Supervisor Kevin Rex said “When we saw that it [the IGCC] did not have to be a mandatory code adoption, that we could use it as a document to help everyone become familiar with green construction, we decided to adopt it.”

While one might argue that Richland was simply jockeying to lay claim to be the first to adopt the IGCC, I believe the International Code Council was the smart one here, by brilliantly making its code provisions voluntary until specifically made mandatory by the governing jurisdiction.  Section 301.2 of the IGCC provides “this chapter requires that the jurisdiction indicate in Table 302.1 whether specific provisions are mandatory for all buildings regulated by this code and, where applicable, the level of compliance required.”  This approach allows the IGCC’s adoption in a manner which minimizes the initial and inevitable arguments that it will have a negative economic effect on new and remodel building construction.  This design of the IGCC will likely appeal to city and county governments across the country, and will no doubt speed the adoption of the IGCC in the coming years.

After adoption of the IGCC by a city or county as a non-mandatory addition to their building codes, then the real work of making mandatory its’ various provisions can begin.  But this approach will allow widespread adoption of the IGCC, so that local governments can work at their own pace, as their local economies will allow, to turn their building codes “green”.

Dale A. Burket is a Florida attorney who is Board Certified in Real Estate by The Florida Bar.  He is a partner with Lowndes Drosdick Doster Kantor & Reed, P.A. (www.lowndes-law.com) in Orlando, Florida.

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