Industry presses life-cycle assessment for International Green Construction Code

Sources: Portland Cement Association, Skokie, Ill.; National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Silver Spring, Md.

PCA and NRMCA were among concrete and masonry interests providing testimony at the International Green Construction Code final action hearings, November 2–6 in Phoenix. One of the most significant concepts debated was the use of life-cycle assessment (LCA) for building designs. A PCA proposal for the inclusion of whole building LCA as an alternative compliance path to prescriptive criteria for materials for building design was disapproved, although placing whole building LCA into the code as a project elective option for building designs was approved.

PCA successfully argued a proposal that permits designers and building owners to select the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings (ASHRAE Standard 189.1) as a compliance alternative for technical criteria of the IGCC. Whole building LCA is permitted in ASHRAE 189.1.

Among other key items of consequence to concrete and masonry interests were approval of sound transmission improvements for building assemblies, including structure borne, as project electives; approval of design service life as a project elective, though specific time frames for design service life were denied; and, disapproval of provisions that would limit recycling to manufacturers with closed
loop processes in place or strengthen robustness and durability of buildings.

The hearing results will become final provisions in the 2012 IGCC edition, scheduled for March release. The IGCC aligns with model building codes to provide an approach to reduce the impacts of building construction on the natural environment and promote conservation. The Phoenix hearings were the culmination of two years of comments and testimonies from concrete, masonry and cement interests addressing the significant development of a model green code that can be adopted nationwide.