Green Building

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Currently in development, the International Green Construction Code will guide the future of sustainable, more energy efficient, buildings. Learn about the “green code” from local experts Anthony Floyd of Scottsdale’s Green Building Program and architect Phil Weddle, President of the American Institute of Architects Phoenix Metro Chapter.

Ted Simons: Take a look around our state and you'll see some of the best examples of green building our nation has to offer. Is it a fad or a growing trend toward healthier, energy efficient, and more sustainable buildings? Part of the answer may lie in the green building code that's being developed by the international code council. It's a set of rules and policies that will guide the design of future sustainable buildings. The green code gets a final hearing later this year in Phoenix. Here to talk about it and some of Arizona's best examples of green building are Anthony Floyd, the city of Scottsdale's green building program manager, and Philip Weddle, president of the Phoenix metro chapter of the American institute of architects. Good to see you both here, thanks for joining us. Green construction code. What is this designed to do?

Anthony Floyd: Well the official name of it is the international green construction code and it is designed to create a baseline standard for green building. There are other rating systems out there, such as LEED and other programs nationally and locally, that has points associated with it. A code does not have points. And so just like the building code has minimum baseline requirement, the green building code has green baseline requirements.

Ted Simons: So is that a reason why you think this would be necessary?

Philip Weddle: I think one of the things that's really important about the international green construction code is the fact that it really reestablishes a minimum threshold. The other rating systems that are much more prevalent now, the LEED system, for example, are essentially all voluntary systems. And the IGCC has an opportunity to create a minimum threshold that is a requirement of all buildings that are constructed, and I think that's really an important measure as we try and move towards carbon neutrality in our new buildings.

Ted Simons: Am I hearing that this code would perhaps integrate all other codes into one umbrella?

Philip Weddle: That's the way that's it's developed, it's developed in partnership with the other international codes, so it would be an integrated approach that would be developed with all of the other ICC codes.

Anthony Floyd: It's design -- its design is an overlay code. It's not replacing the building code and the electrical, plumbing, mechanical, it's designed to work in conjunction with those existing codes.

Ted Simons: So what would be emphasized now in putting this particular code together? You take a little bit of all the existing codes and find some sort of agreement here, what goes on?

Anthony Floyd: Well, it's based upon rating systems such as LEED, and so it's similar categories, energy, water efficiency, building materials and resources, sustainable sites, those are the major pillars of green building for all green building programs. So what the green building code is doing is codifying that. It's creating in code language minimum requirements for energy efficiency. For water savings. For better indoor environmental quality.

Ted Simons: And I know that you were involved with the Rio Salado Audubon Center, which has won all sorts of awards and I want to look at that, as we look at this, tell us how this particular Audubon Center, how does it follow code? What are we looking at here as far as the code in the future?

Philip Weddle: Well the Rio Salado Audubon Center was developed utilizing the LEED rating system, and it actually achieved a LEED platinum certification, which is the highest certification available. It -- the project some of the key features were about habitat restoration, we planted over 4,000 plants, trees, and cacti on the site to restore the native habitat from a water conservation standpoint, the project utilizes an on-site wastewater treatment system that we are then able to capture and reuse that water for irrigation. That saves about 250 to 300,000 gallons of water per year. We also have a P.V. array system that generates about 40 to 50% of the annual energy demands. Those are some of the big steps that project took towards sustainable design.

Ted Simons: In the city of Scottsdale, now, the Appaloosa Library is another point you want to talk about here.

Anthony Floyd: Yes.

Ted Simons: We're going to look at this as well. Again, how would this follow code?

Anthony Floyd: Well, first of all, Scottsdale is committed to green building. We passed a resolution in 2005 to require all city facilities to meet the legal level of certification. As a voluntary program we made a mandate out of it for a city facilities. So the code is designed for the private sector primarily for commercial projects in the community. And the Appaloosa Library is a good benchmark for how the international green construction code will work. And the Appaloosa Library achieved a LEED gold level of certification, and it was designed by local architects Doug Sydnor and DWL Architects, and it has solar, highly efficient daylighting, it reduces heat effect, because the parking is actually decomposed granite, and there's preferred parking for hybrid vehicles and low - or high-efficiency vehicles, low emission vehicles. So those are just some examples, energy monitoring system, controls, better indoor air quality, that's a benchmark for what will be in the green building code.

Ted Simons: A benchmark as well I would imagine would be the gateway, which you were involved with as well. A benchmark in terms of again, public places and public buildings, these sorts of things?

Philip Weddle: Right. The gateway is another project that we had developed utilizing the LEED system with the city of Scottsdale, received a LEED platinum certification. The project had a strong emphasis on habitat preservation, we actually had a group of volunteers from the McDowell Conservancy and other corporate sponsors who salvaged over 1500 cacti on the site and replanted them. We had 4200 hours of volunteer time log order that project. The project is also net zero energy, meaning that we're generating as much energy on site as we need for this facility to operate. And we're also capturing rain water harvesting in underground cisterns that we are able to capture about 50 to 60,000 gallons of water per year and reuse that for landscape irrigation.

Ted Simons: Let's get back to the code now that we've seen these buildings. They're beautiful buildings and structures, obviously they would pass whatever code comes out in the final time wash here, but who decides on the code, and who decides who decides?

Anthony Weddle: Well, usually it's recommended by the building official to adopt codes and has to go to city council, so ultimately it's up to city council to adopt a building code. That would include the international green construction code. And Scottsdale, we're on a schedule to use this beginning as voluntary code. So we would like to get some experience with this over the next year or two as a voluntary code, and we would work on having incentives so it would be similar to the green building programs, which we have in Scottsdale. But we would be using the international green construction code as that gauge for measuring the greenness of private sector projects. And in 2012 we're looking perhaps to adopt a new family of codes. Every three years a building code is published, and in 2012 that's when the new international green construction code will be published. And it's that at that time we will evaluate whether it needs to remain voluntary or mandatory. And ultimately that's a city council decision.

Ted Simons: From a distance when I hear about codes, I don't necessarily hear the word voluntary. It's got to be enforced or else it's not much of a code. Talk to us about that particular dynamic and how this thing would be enforced.

Philip Weddle: Well I think from the American Institute of Architects' perspective, we would actually like to see it be a mandatory requirement, because buildings in this country represent about 40% of the carbon emissions on an annual basis. They represent about 65-70% of the electricity consumption in our country. We feel like it's really important that we work and strive to try and reduce the -- those numbers and try to create more efficient buildings. And we really see that the international green construction code is an important factor in doing that.

Ted Simons: But if you do have the cooperation from international folks, state of California, maybe the city of Scottsdale, maybe some other smaller municipalities, what happens if -- a major city says, I don't think so. I'm not so sure this is all that big of a deal. What happens if the state of Arizona says we don't want any part of this? Which is very likely to happen. Again, how do you get the rubber to meet the road here?

Anthony Floyd: Well, it's interesting to note that the city of Phoenix is also looking at and evaluating the international green construction code. For now they will use it as voluntary code, but they plan to go to city council in June of this year, is my understanding, for it to become effective in July. That will use it as a voluntary code. But that's when we can assess and evaluate, determine whether it's viable as a mandatory code. We won't know until we have that experience. So 2012 is another year, it depends on where the economy is, and where the political climate is.

Ted Simons: Indeed. Talk about architects and the challenges facing architects. Some of whom may never have touched anything remotely like what is being called for in that code.

Philip Weddle: Well, I think it's an important evolution in the profession that everyone needs to get up to speed with that. And I think the most architects have been doing that. Some of the voluntary programs like LEED, for example, have done a lot to move the industry in that direction. And I really see that the IGCC is just a next evolution of that.

Ted Simons: What do you see as far as architects and trying to convince them or teach them to get on board?

Anthony Floyd: I think it's a national -- a natural progression. If we look at the provisions in building codes today, such as energy efficiency, or even ADA accessibility, water efficiency, 10, 15, 20 years ago that was not a part of building codes. Building codes has evolved -- have evolved over the last hundred years, and I think as the society has become more sophisticated, knowledgeable, we understand our impact, the codes evolve with that and I think that's what's happening. We're moving into a next level of the building codes.

Ted Simons: It's been described as a game-changer in sustainable building. Do you agree?

Philip Weddle: I would agree that it shifts the baseline expectation, and I think that's really an important shift that needs to happen.

Ted Simons: Do you see that as well?

Anthony Floyd: Oh, yes. For sure. Also I think it will require not only architects to be educated, but also cities, building inspectors, plan reviewers, because it will be-- a part of that process verification and enforcing and determining whether there should be third party inspectors or in-house inspectors, all those things have to be worked out.

Ted Simons: What kind of timetable now are we looking at? I know Phoenix is the spot for later in the year. Give us a sense.

Anthony Floyd: We're looking at second quarter to implement the voluntary program in Scottsdale for commercial buildings. So it's voluntary, it won't be enforced or required for anyone to follow, but there are builders out there and developers who like the recognition for their project, and this is -- could be an alternative to LEED, the LEED rating system, if they don't want to go platinum or gold, they want to go with something more comfortable at a lower level, they can follow the green building code.

Ted Simons: Last question, is Arizona considered a leader in this sort of thing? Because I see a lot of these buildings out there, we've done programs on LEED certified and green buildings and these sorts of things, seems like there's a lot of stuff going on here in Arizona. Is that accurate?

Philip Weddle: There's definitely been I think a very strong level of design among the architectural community in Arizona. They've been recognized as leaders in design in the southwest, and I think that the environmental design that's been developed here is just another aspect of that. So certainly there has been center strong leadership here in the community.

Ted Simons: Do you hear that as well that Arizona is a leader in this sort of thing? Or do we still have a ways to go?

Anthony Floyd: I think we have a ways to go as a state. We could look at individual communities, but not as a state.

Ted Simons: Alright well good stuff. Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us we appreciate it.

Anthony Floyd:Scottsdale's Green Building Program; Phil Weddle:President, American Institute of Architects Phoenix Metro Chapter;

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