Green Building Update: A Push Towards Adoption of Local Green Building Codes

August 8, 2010
by ANGELA PAPPAS
Client Alert Newsletter August 2010

According to a projection released by EL Insights, a subscription report published by Environmental Leader, the market value in the United State's green building sector is expected to climb from 71.1 billion in 2010 to about 173 billion by 2015. If this forecast proves accurate, how, if at all, will local governments respond in revamping their building codes to account for this anticipated increase in green building? In recent months, guidance materials and other resources have been released to both encourage and assist local governments in evaluating their current building codes and incorporating green building mandates as part of code revisions. For example:

  • In July 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") Region 4 released a Sustainable Design and Green Building Toolkit for Local Governments (the "Toolkit"), which according to a recent news release by EPA, "is designed to assist local governments in identifying and removing permitting barriers to sustainable design and green building practices." The Toolkit includes an Assessment Tool to help local governments in reviewing their permitting process, a Resource Guide that provides links to additional guidance information, and an Action Plan that provides a roadmap for the implementation of regulatory changes. The Toolkit can be found here.
  • In June 2010, Columbia Law School's Center for Climate Change Law released a Draft Model Municipal Green Building Ordinance which is based on an empirical analysis of existing municipal green building regulation and is structured in such a way as to avoid certain legal impediments affecting green building practices. The draft model ordinance along with a legal analysis can be found here.
  • Also in June 2010, the U.S. Green Building Council released a white paper, entitled Greening the Codes, which discusses a history of building codes and details the role that green building rating systems such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) can play in constructing more comprehensive building codes that incorporate sustainable and green building practices. The white paper can be found here.

With these resources made available by reputable players in the green building arena, we may start to see more local governments reviewing their current building codes and considering the adoption and enforcement of green building mandates.