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May 10, 2011

'Code Green' on construction in MD


Maryland has become the first state in the nation to embrace a green construction code, which green building advocates hope will pave the way (so to speak) for much more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly structures.

Gov. Martin O'Malley signed into law legislation passed this year by the General Assembly authorizing the application of the International Green Construction Code on all commercial buildings and residential buildings more than three stories high.

HB972, sponsored by Del. Dana Stein, D-Baltimore County, authorizes the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to adopt the code, and it enables local governments to do so as well.

In a year when lawmakers chose to study rather than act on most major environmental issues, the construction code measure is hailed by Stuart Kaplow, chairman of the US Green Building Council Maryland, as "the most significant environmental legislation adopted in Maryland this year." He called it "pro-business and pro-environment"

Proponents say the green construction code is likely to expand energy-efficient and environmentally friendly building practices.  It is faster, cheaper and easier to follow, they say, than the USGBC's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, which puts off some developers because of the costs and delays in getting third-party certification of the green features in a building's design and construction.

Why do green buildings matter?  According to the USGBC, buildings account for 40% of US energy consumption, 39% of CO2 emissions and 13% water consumption. Building them greener can reduce energy use by up to 50%, CO2 emissions by as much as 39% and potable water use 40%.

(Construction cranes, 2008 Baltimore Sun photo by Doug Kapustin)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 11:37 AM | | Comments (8)


Great News for Maryland!

It all sounds great, but what are the costs? If it's easy, it's not effective. If it's effective, it's going to be more costly.

The article should have provided more substance.

TW: Building green has in the past meant higher upfront costs but lower energy and maintenance expenses over the life of the structure. Practitioners contend now it need not cost more up front, either, as more green materials are made and techniques have been honed. One cost-and time-saving benefit of the green construction code is it doesn't require the documentation and independent certification called for to gain a LEED rating.

The greenest building is one that is already standing. I hope the Green code will embrace and encourage the environmental value of reusing existing and historic building stock.

It looks like MD is not going to see many new buildingsabove three stories.

California was the first to adopt a Green Building Standards Code.

The IgCC version that MD adopted is only in draft form and not ready for adoption by any State or Municipality.

"Just the facts, ma'am"...
Maryland has adopted enabling legislation, but hasn't forced adoption by each municipality...Before adopting the IGCC, municipalities should thoroughly review all the inclusions - specifically relating to the permitting requirements, inspection requirements, and long-term reporting requirements - in times of reduced city budgets, cities must determine if they can afford the additional training and education required to illuminate the building inspectors in their newly-required tasks...architects and owners should review the additional regulatory and cost burdens due to provisions for long-term reporting and permit will coast unaffected into sustainability - the IGCC codifies many of the provisions of the LEED rating sounds good, but before celebrating - do your homework and study the code...the second draft is free for download, and the ICC is meeting in Dallas to review the numerous comments that attempt to modify its provisions...I've written extensively on the IGCC provisions in the AIA KnowledgeNet blog - educate yourself!

Rhode Island might take issue with the claim of first.

TW: Rhode Island's so small it hardly counts as a state! ;) Seriously, in RI, the IGCC only applies to government buildings. Maryland's opened the door for it to cover all construction, private as well as public.

Michelle, at first building "green" did cost more, now that's not so true. I was the owners rep for a 40 million dollar building which had a requirement to be LEED Silver. The architect and MEP team properly utilized an intergrated design approach and the costs came out to be about 7% less than a conventionally constructed building would cost. The energy savings was just gravy at that point.

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About the bloggers
Tim WheelerTim Wheeler reports on the environment and Chesapeake Bay. A native of West Virginia, he has focused mainly on Maryland's environment since moving here in 1983. Along the way, he's crewed aboard a skipjack in the bay, canoed under city streets up the Jones Fall from the Inner Harbor, and gone deep underground in a western Maryland coal mine. He loves seafood, rambles in the country and good stories. He hopes to share some here.

Contributor Christy Zuccarini has been blogging about the local DIY craft scene for a year for She brings her pespective on all things handmade to B'More Green, where she will highlight projects you can do yourself as well as crafters who are integrating sustainable methods and materials.

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