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An Integrated Green Code

Industry associations join together to create one, unified green building code

Integrated Code Dec18 Ma
The east face of the LEED Silver ArtHouse, a residential building in Portland, Ore., showcases an aluminum panel system. Insulation must be labeled and meet the criteria within the scope of IgCC/189.1. Photo: Anyeley Hallova, courtesy of the U.S. Green Building Council

This year, the partnership between the International Code Council (ICC) and ASHRAE was finalized with the merging of their respective high-performance building programs, the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and ASHRAE 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings, except Low-Rise Residential Buildings.

Sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), ASHRAE, the ICC, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the 2018-IgCC was officially released in November 2018. Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC, says the hope is that business professionals and policymakers alike adopt better, greener building strategies that help them implement LEED and achieve higher performance in sustainability.

“Over the last several decades, market leaders have adopted LEED and achieved higher levels of building performance and sustainability in the face of increasing global challenges,” Ramanujam says. “USGBC has led the development of the LEED green building rating system, an unrivaled standard of living critical to providing a better quality of life for millions of people around the world. And with the 2018-IgCC, we are helping people build upon that work, as well as on the universal truth that every human being deserves to live in spaces that foster longer, healthier lives.”

A Collaborative Effort

Sheila J. Hayter, PE, 2018-2019 ASHRAE president, says the collaboration marks a shift in building design and construction that includes environmental health and safety as code minimums. “The goal of 2018-IgCC is to provide fundamental criteria for energy efficiency, resource conservation, water safety, land use, site development, indoor environmental quality and building performance that can be adopted broadly and applied directly to sustainable construction,” she adds.

Jeremy Childs, senior project manager for Varco Pruden Buildings, Memphis, Tenn., says the new code will provide clarity regarding environmental health and safety with specific code minimum requirements. “The new code will also provide a firm foundation to build on for future sustainability and energy efficiency requirements.”

This foundation will allow local jurisdictions to build upon regulatory requirements by leveraging complementary leadership strategies that support and encourage the evolution of the building community. The shared vision therefore reinforces societal health/life/safety benefits that building codes offer, while providing resilience to natural disasters, climate change, resource consumption/management, and service interruptions due to unforeseen events.

Sustainable Buildings

The presence of green building design, construction and operational techniques has increased in recent years, with everyone from homeowners, businesses and building professionals voluntarily incorporating sustainable building techniques into their projects. Over the years, a number of local and national systems have developed as guides to green building practices, including the USGBC’s LEED rating system, the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge, Green Globes and the WELL Building Standard.

While not a design guide or rating system, the 2018-IgCC provides minimum requirements for high-performance, green buildings. Hayter stresses the document was designed to provide compliance options to complement green building rating programs and not as a way to compete with them. Instead, the new IgCC is a starting point for rating systems to build from.

Insulation must be labeled and meet the criteria within the scope of IgCC/189.1. Photo courtesy of Therm-All.

Improved Energy Performance

When built to comply with the 2018-IgCC, all building construction types, including metal buildings, will experience improved energy performance Mike Pfeiffer, senior vice president of the ICC, believes the insulation aspect is most noticeable. After doing a word search of the draft, one metal building specific aspect he noticed was informative appendix building envelope tables. “The impact on metal buildings is you have to demonstrate compliance with what will be ASHRAE 90.1, which is the ASHRAE standard for energy code compliance,” he says.

Additionally, Pfeiffer believes someone at the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) will need to do an assessment to find out what changes have occurred in ASHRAE 90.1 relative to the insulation. “Obviously, we are talking about the envelope,” he says. “What changes have occurred that will impact the industry based on climate zones and insulation levels—have they increased or decreased? What is the standing of the entire envelope? This requires a comprehensive energy analysis. How is the metal building designed? Does it have a liner system with integral insulation? Or, does it have a separate metal stud frame inside the wall, which is used for insulation? [There is] no way to determine the impact until you do the analysis.”

According to Jonathan Humble, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD&C, regional director for the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), another advantage of the new IgCC code referencing ASHRAE 90.1 is that it will allow a more detailed method of thermal assessment for building envelopes constructed using a metal building system. “This method contained within ASHRAE 90.1 benefits metal buildings by allowing the user to design more thermally efficient buildings through the use of a detailed calculation method for determining the thermal resistance of a wall or roof so metal building systems can demonstrate compliance versus having to choose the more conservative prescriptive insulation values in the climate zone tables.”

Bill Beals, district manager at Lancaster, Pa.-based Therm-All, says the new code will bring more of an emphasis on design, so the building designer needs to understand the requirements of the roof and wall assemblies. “The insulation itself is not a problem,” he says. “The U-values can be met with fiberglass, polyisocyanurate board products, or insulated metal panels. [These materials] must be labeled and meet the criteria within the scope of IgCC/189.1. Secondly, there are some cool roof provisions that need to be addressed, as well as air tightness and blower door testing. Some cases will now require third-party inspections during actual construction, which is new."

Unlike LEED, which is voluntary, Samir Mokashi, principal at Code Unlimited, Portland, Ore., says that once the new code is adopted, it will become mandatory for all buildings. He also believes the continuous insulation requirement will benefit metal panels. “If the metal panel industry comes together and insulation values start going up, it will be more attractive as a single system versus a composite between a metal panel and stick-build with insulation,” he says.

Hayster predicts the 2018-IgCC will be a milestone achievement, and it is only the beginning. “In forming the historic agreement among ASHRAE, ICC, AIA, IES and USGBC, these organizations envision a new era of design and construction where green codes become widespread,” she says.

Metal Buildings

The IgCC applies to all types of buildings, including metal buildings. Wes Sullens, director, codes technical development at the USGBC, explains that when a jurisdiction adopts the IgCC, they can indicate what types of buildings are required to meet which portions of the code.

“Metal buildings could be covered depending on the local requirements when adopted, as well as factors like whether or not conditioned spaces need to meet various code requirements, like energy codes,” Sullens says. “With that said, the IgCC is meant to apply to the total permitted project, meaning any portion of a project that is covered through the construction permit has requirements, from site landscaping measures, down to the materials that make up the interior, and the control schedules for operating the building. Requirements for recycling construction waste, installing high-efficiency lighting, or selecting low-emitting paints/finishes are common for all building types.”

For metal buildings, roofs and walls, there are measures in the IgCC that may affect building design and, possibly, product selection. For example, Sullens says, “If a metal building is conditioned or semi-conditioned, the IgCC would trigger energy efficiency requirements for the envelope and any HVAC equipment or appliances in scope. For plumbing systems, water-efficient fixtures are required to minimize the use of potable water. Interior finishes, such as flooring or floor sealants, must meet low-VOC emissions criteria. Roofs may be required to incorporate daylighting strategies, such as skylights, and cool roof materials depending on the climate zone and space type.”

Generally, most industry sources believe installing building materials, including metal, will not be significantly different for projects meeting the 2018-IgCC. Some provisions may require additional planning if not already commonplace, such as the management of construction waste. To meet the waste diversion requirements, Sullens believes contractors will need to consider how and where materials will be sent for recovery (recycling or reuse), instead of to landfills.

Industry Benefits

Humble believes the 2018-IgCC will be beneficial to the metal building industry. “The 2015 IgCC recognizes the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which the ICC also produces,” he says. “The IECC code does not recognize semi-heated spaces as part of its envelope compliance methodology, which metal building manufacturers cater to as one of their primary clients. However, the new joint IgCC does directly reference ASHRAE Standard 90.1, which does have a category for semiheated buildings in its envelope compliance requirements.”

And, Humble notes that the urban heat island mitigation provisions will likely remain the same. “The new IgCC will continue to have a cool roof requirement,” he says. “However, unlike like the 2015 IgCC, which allows the use of multiple ASTM test standards, the new IgCC will only allow the use of Cool Roof Rating Council’s (CRRC) S-100 test standard to test for solar reflectance and thermal emittance, which are the necessary components to calculate the solar reflective index to determine compliance. The CRRC S-100 is quite expansive as it contains a greater number of test methods to be used for a greater quantity of different roofing products. In addition, for metal roofs it allows for the testing of custom colors as part of its repertoire of test methods available to users.”