Yesterday the International Code Council published the first draft of the International Green Construction Code. I think this is an important step to make sustainable building practices the norm rather than something only rich owners specify. The LEED certification process was a good way to start the process and move the industry toward consensus, but lacks the clarity of code language.
Similarly, the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) moved us toward accessible design, but was terrible to work under until the ANSI/ICC A117.1 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities was produced. As an example, the ADA required the toilet center-line be 18″ from the wall. We had inspectors conclude they weren’t authorized to allow 17 7/8″. When A117 came out with that requirement clarified to be 16″ to 18″, we all knew we were working with a tolerance that was achievable.
So, if you are interested in sustainable building design and construction, download the public comment version of the International Green Construction Code and study through it. You will make yourself a more valuable industry asset and learn a few things in the process. If you have some extra time available due to the economy, use it to learn. Celebrate your interest and aptitude for learning…it’s one of life’s great joys.