A report by –
18 OCTOBER 2011

Building codes ensure the health, safety and welfare of building users and the public. Unfortunately, many of today’s codes are prescriptive and based on traditional industry standards, thereby precluding innovative approaches to environmentally responsible design. An additional problem is that design standards are evolving at a faster pace than building codes. Therefore it is critical to supplement existing building codes with provisions for innovation in order to create opportunities to introduce technological and other improvements more rapidly.

Barriers to Green Development
Green building still represents a small percentage of total construction.3 One reason for this is that existing codes and code officials often pose barriers to changes in construction practices. Another is anticipation of resistance from code officials.

The study found current building regulators are unaware of the “risks and unintended consequences
inherent in current practice”.
Additionally, most building departments lack the time and resources to
educate building officials about these issues and essential elements of green building. The researchers
found a surprising 65% of surveyed code users intentionally left out green building elements
because they anticipated that code officials would deny the design.

Strategies for increasing the potential for code approval:
1. Present sufficient information to the building official pertaining to
the green building technology (technical, engineered tests, precedents)
2. When applicable, include contact information of code official in
other jurisdiction where similar green building technology was approved
3. Collaborate with code officials early in the design process, and begin the approval process early

Steps that can be taken to improve the compatibility of building
regulations and green building:
1. Organize research committees within building department to inform
code officials of green alternatives

Graham Ellis


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