This month marks the publication of yet another new building code — the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) 2012. While local jurisdictions have the option to adopt it or not, the intent is clearly to offer cities a framework from which they can now mandate use of green technologies rather than merely provide incentives for their use (see, for instance, the United States Green Building Council’s LEED program).
Back in 2007, Davis Langdon wrote a thought-provoking report entitled, “Cost of Green Revisited: Reexamining the Feasibility and Cost Impact of Sustainable Design in the Light of Increased Market Adoption.” Using cost data from hundreds of buildings, he demonstrated that when sustainable technologies are incorporated into a project from the outset rather than added on as “extras,” the cost of LEED certified buildings was comparable to non-certified buildings.
So my question is this: Does building green need to be mandated? If it makes more economic sense to incorporate green features into a building, why not let people make this decision and feel good about it rather than forcing them to do it with a heavy hand and generate feelings of discord?
Personally, I am in favor of good, sensible, and sustainable design practices. However, I feel that good design should be able to stand on its own merits rather than be mandated. I would prefer that the IgCC and all sponsoring organizations protect the reputation of building codes by limiting them to issues concerning life and safety. Let designers lead the way in promoting green.