By Jeff Potter

As energy costs approach record levels, towns and municipalities are striving to establish standards and increase their sustainability profile. Currently, there is no lack of confusion on how best to make buildings energy-efficient and sustainable using regulatory approaches. With a plethora of checklists and rating systems (and a lot of debate as to what approach is truly effective) it is imperative that local governments have a credible, enforceable and adoptable code in place. It is through the effective application and enforcement of standardized codes that the most meaningful improvements to the health, safety and welfare of the public have been achieved.

(For more on sustainability and best practices in the built space, read Better Buildings, appearing quarterly in Real Estate Forum.)

That’s why the International Green Construction Code, which was finalized and issued in late March by theInternational Code Council, the leading code-authoring organization in cooperation with the American Institute of Architects and the American Society for Testing and Materials is so important. The product of a public process including comment periods and hearings throughout 2010 and 2011, the IgCC, otherwise known as the Green Code, is the first real attempt to codify an enforceable standard for how to achieve energy savings in the biggest consumers of energy in the United States: commercial buildings.

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