Green and Advanced Codes

Advanced and green energy codes direct the design and construction of more sustainable buildings that go beyond the minimum accepted standards of practice established in energy codes to reduce energy use and environmental impact even further. In this way, green and advanced codes are an important means to achieving climate goals set by many states and municipalities, as well as addressing the rising cost of energy.

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What are Green and Advanced Codes?

Advanced and green energy codes direct the design and construction of more sustainable buildings that go beyond the minimum accepted standards of practice established in energy codes to reduce energy use and environmental impact even further. In this way, green and advanced codes are an important means to achieving climate goals set by many states and municipalities, as well as addressing the rising cost of energy.

Although they both address building energy efficiency, advanced and green energy codes are distinct terms that are not interchangeable:

Advanced codes

Energy codes that incorporate efficiency requirements that are more stringent than the national model energy codes are known as “advanced codes,” “reach codes,” or “stretch codes.” These energy efficiency provisions help to transform the marketplace and shape the development of future model codes by bringing high performing buildings into the mainstream and raising the ceiling for building energy performance. 

Green codes

Green codes take the process a step further by promoting other aspects of sustainable buildings throughout their life-cycle. In addition to energy efficiency, they incorporate water conservation, building materials, resource management, renewable energy sources, occupant health, and environmental stewardship. Some green codes encourage investment in pedestrian infrastructure, proximity to public transit, and reduction in stormwater through an increase in pervious surfaces. By mandating construction based on these principles and promoting credible and practical building approaches, green codes help to create more sustainable communities.

Green Code Adoption

In response to broad public concern over resource depletion and climate change, many states and municipalities are adopting building practices that result in energy-efficient, healthier, and environmentally sustainable buildings. According to BCAP's National Listing of Above Code, High Performance, and Green Building Programs, to date, over 275 cities, counties, and states have adopted some level of green codes. Many of them draw elements from the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) and often state a minimum certification level that buildings must achieve. In some jurisdictions, only government-owned buildings are required to meet green code standards.

Model Green Codes

In 2008, the International Codes Council (ICC) and the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) developed the ICC 700, also known as the National Green Building Standard, which provides guidelines to "green" building practices that can be incorporated into new construction, including single and multifamily buildings and remodeled homes. Like the USGBC’s LEED for Homes, the National Green Building Standard also has a point-based rating system. 

In January 2010, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), in conjunction with the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), published Standard 189.1, Standard for the Design of High Performance, Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, the first U.S. commercial green building standard intended to be used in codes. According to a preliminary estimate by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), it is approximately 27 percent more energy efficient than Standard 90.1-2007, the national model code. The ICC, in conjunction with a number of partners, also created a green code for new and existing commercial buildings in March 2010, the International Green Construction Code (IGCC), Public Version 1.0.

Each of these publications will greatly assist states and jurisdictions by allowing the adoption of a nationally developed standard in codified language.

Learn More about Green and Advanced Codes

United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Environment and Energy Design (LEED)ext
Internationally recognized green building certification system

Official Blog of the USGBC
Learn about up-to-date issues, commentary, and descriptions of events related to green building practices and advanced codes.

The Green Building Information Gatewayext
Maps, building profiles and other information on green buildings in the United States.
 

ICC 700 "National Green Building Standard"ext
Provides guidelines to "green" building practices

ASHRAE Standard 189.1ext
A model green energy code in the United States, published by ASHRAE

International Green Construction Code (IGCC)ext
A model green energy code in the United States, published by the IECC

BCAP's 2009 National Listing of Above Code, High Performance, and Green Building Programs

DOE's List of Advanced Code and Beyond Code Programs ext
Above code information and resources

Climate Change in the U.S.
Information on climate change and building codes

BCAP's Net Zero Building Information
Current building policies and intitiatives underway

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