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It's been a long, not-altogether-smooth road for the new green building standard: 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings. But this past January, after nearly four years of work, some reshuffling of the volunteer committee, tens of thousands of hours of work, and four public review periods which elicited more than 2,800 comments, the tripartite team of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) released the standard.
And there was much rejoicing, not only in those organizations, but also across the industry as a whole. To date, more than 1,400 authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ), including several states and the federal government, have expressed interest in adopting the new code, says Gordon Holness, president of ASHRAE. Further good news came in March when it was announced that the new 189.1 standard would be an "alternative jurisdictional compliance option" within the new International Green Construction Code (IGCC). (See "ICC and ASHRAE Join Forces below.")
So 189.1 is something facility managers may find themselves having to contend with sooner rather than later.
In addition, because the standard includes language that mandates commissioning and a "plan for operations," facility managers may find themselves with a much stronger voice during the design and construction of new 189.1-compliant buildings.
ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1-2009 sets minimum requirements for the gamut of green building strategies. It is the first comprehensive sustainability standard for commercial buildings written in mandatory language so that it can be adopted within building code.
Even so, there may be a few different paths jurisdictions may take to implementation, says Holness. Some jurisdictions may choose to implement the code as an optional path to conventional codes, and some may choose to require compliance to 189.1 only for public buildings. But Holness says he expects most jurisdictions that adopt the new standard as code will do so holistically, which will in effect mandate that every new building be a green building.
"The vast majority of those that do move forward are expected to apply a green code universally to both public or private buildings," he says.
To read Standard 189.1 in an online-only format, visit: www.iccsafe.org/cs/IGCC/Documents/ASHRAE_viewer.aspx
ICC and ASHRAE Join Forces
The announcement in March that ASHRAE Standard 189.1 would be an option for compliance for the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) is significant for a number of reasons.
But, first, a brief overview of the IGCC. The code, subtitled "Safe and Sustainable: By the Book," is being developed as a model code to work as an "overlay" code to the International Code Council (ICC) family of codes. This means that it doesn't replace codes already in effect, it adds to them.
"Jurisdictions are used to having a model code as a basis for adopting legislation to regulate building construction," says Michael Armstrong, senior vice president of member services for ICC. "As green construction has become more mainstream in the U.S., the time is now ripe to offer a model code guiding green construction."
IGCC is currently in Public Version 1.0, having recently undergone its first public comment period. The code will be revised into a Public Version 2.0 by next year, and then the First Edition will be released in early 2012.
The agreement between ASHRAE and ICC means that 189.1 fits within the framework of the IGCC as an option for compliance. "ASHRAE felt the agreement with ICC was of significant importance to the industry so there's not two sets of competing green building standards," says Gordon Holness, ASHRAE's president. "I'm delighted by the agreement."
Because both standards cover essentially the same areas of building with approximately the same rigor, jurisdictions (and possibly building owners, in some cases) will have the option to use either IGCC or 189.1. IGCC already has at least three levels of compliance, so adding 189.1 as a compliance option gives jurisdictions one more choice. Because ICC is the most recognized new construction code-writing body, and with more than 22,000 jurisdictions in all 50 states using ICC codes, the agreement gives 189.1 the possibility of much wider adoption than if jurisdictions would have considered adopting 189.1 by itself.
"With a decision to adopt the IGCC, a jurisdiction can opt to codify 189.1 as its guidelines," says Armstrong. "The language of Standard 189.1 would then govern green construction practices in that jurisdiction."
— Greg Zimmerman
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