RULES & REGS: Stalled Green Building Standard Moves Forward; Third Round of Public Comments Expected Early Next Year

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorWashington, D.C.—Proposed Standard 189.1P: Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings, Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings (SPC 189.1P), which will apply to all buildings that are four stories and higher, is being created by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).Late last month, ASHRAE disbanded the volunteer committee working on the standard’s development, raising doubt that the code would ever come to fruition. However, ASHRAE recently issued an open call for members interested in serving on the project committee, explaining, “ASHRAE will seek to ensure that all directly and materially affected parties have appropriate opportunities for participation in the development of this standard, as required under the rigorous consensus standards process set by the American National Standards Institute.”The standard, if and when it is approved, will provide minimum criteria to address site sustainability, water and energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and building materials used.“It promotes integrated design,” Brendan Owens, vice president of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Technical Development, USGBC, tells MHN. “That’s the direction that we want to see the market go—where designers and developers and operators are looking.”A third round of public comments will be made available in the first quarter of 2009. Owens encourages all to participate. “The best standards and the best building codes and rating systems are born out of collaborative discussions between all the people who have knowledge and expertise in the area we are trying to transform. The point of public consultation is to make sure we are making the best decisions.” Once approved, it will be up to local authorities whether or not to adopt it as their building code. “It’s going to be up to the different cities and to the different things they want to [provide] incentives for,” Owens tells MHN. Those jurisdictions that already have a green building code in place may choose to replace their existing standards with Standard 189 or simply use it in collaboration with their current code. Though different from LEED certification because it does not require third-party certification, Standard 189 may convince more developers and architects to take that extra step to become certified. “The reality is that LEED requires third-party certification of the achievements of the design and construction team, which is not a requirement of Standard 189,” explains Owens. “It is intended to be a lead into LEED and be a minimum through which people can get acquainted with some technology appropriate to green building.”