Maryland Gets Greener with Adoption of International Green Construction Code

Annapolis, Md.--The State of Maryland becomes the first state in the United States to enable wide-scale adoption of the International Green Construction Code.

Annapolis, Md.—The State of Maryland continues to do its part for the national green development cause as Governor  Martin O’Malley signs into law the State’s adoption of the International Green Construction Code (IGCC), paving the way for local government entities to adopt the code and give developers a new option for sustainable construction guidelines. The move makes Maryland the first state in the United States to enable wide-scale adoption of the IGCC.

“Maryland has the most LEED-certified projects on a per-capita basis in the country,” Stuart Kaplow, chair of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Maryland Chapter, tells MHN, referring to USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system. “We’re fairly green, but with the IGCC we just wanted to create an environment where green building can flourish.”

The IGCC was established in 2010 by the International Code Council and a group of sponsors that included USGBC, the American Institute of Architects, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers, and other associated organizations. The purpose is to improve the long-term performance and safety of commercial and high-rise residential buildings through baseline regulations involving energy conservation, water efficiency, site impacts, building waste and materials, and other considerations. The Council describes the code as, “A useable and enforceable framework that links together issues of green design, building performance and building safety.”

With Maryland having just adopted the IGCC through the International Green Construction Code Act, local governments now have the freedom to incorporate the IGCC, and if they choose to do so, the code will serve as a supplement—not an additional requirement—to the State’s current green building policy, which mandates that state-owned buildings and state-funded schools be constructed to meet green standards as defined by USGBC’s LEED Silver Certification. “It will be a code on top of the existing building and energy code. It will be an overlay, and it will be voluntary,” Kaplow notes. “No one will ever be forced to build using IGCC, but it will be available if a property owner wishes to avail himself of the code. It being voluntary is the key.”

Kaplow is confident that local jurisdictions will follow the State’s lead and adopt the IGCC, and that builders—while the government will not be twisting any arms—will opt to incorporate the code into their projects, particularly in the multifamily arena. “I think there will be a balance of those who will want to use the code for environmental stewardship purposes and those who will want to use it to be competitive, but mostly it will probably be a combination of the two,” he says. “Renters will potentially pay more to be in a green space than for a comparable unit that’s not green. Developers who don’t build green may only lose in the marketplace. They may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage from the perspective that more and more tenants will want to be in a green unit. Also, a green building is cheaper to operate and often costs less to insure, and that’s also an advantage for owners.”

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