Wednesday, March 23, 2011

5 - The IGCC is totally unnecessary - It financially rewards those who promote its "necessity"

As a preface to my commentary on the IGCC, let me address all “single-family residential architects / designer”: Don’t get smug! Once the IGCC (for commercial projects) is formally adopted, the next matter of “green-code” business is formulation of the International Green Residential Construction Code (or some derivation of the name). So don’t think that what I’m reviewing won’t impact you. This is only a foretaste of what’s coming “to your neighborhood”.

Forging ahead:

To continue my commentary on the International Green Construction Code (IGCC), I lambast the lack of neutrality inherent within the IGCC. Generally, codes are “neutral” – no-one makes or loses money based upon a code’s implementation. Not so with the IGCC. Adoption of the IGCC will facilitate a group of financial winners and one specific financial loser – after I list both, I’ll concentrate on my primary concern – architects. Here’s the list of winners and the loser (FYI: PCHC stands for Public Comment Hearing Committee):


· ICC (International Code Council) - big winner – another code to update every three years – a continuing stream of “business”, plus, sales of reference and interpretive guides will increase due to the complexity of compliance – represented on the PCHC by the following members:

ICC / Code Enforcement and Development:
ICC Project Staff
Project Managers
Tom Frost, AIA — Senior Vice President
Mike Pfeiffer, PE — Deputy Senior Vice President
Rebecca Baker, CBO
Director of Building Safety - Jefferson County - Golden, CO

· Commissioning Agents (Mechanical Engineers) - big winners – the IGCC has numerous requirements for pre and post commissioning – now it’s in the code – and Cx fees will be allowed to increase because the work-scope isn’t voluntary – it’s mandatory – represented on the PCHC by the following AIA member.
A. Vernon Woodworth, AIA
Associate Principal, R.W. Sullivan, Inc. - Boston, MA

· ASHRAE (see above - support for continuing updates to standards) - represented on the PCHC by a consulting engineer.
Carol Marriott, P. Eng.
Representing ASHRAE – Owner, Carol Marriott Consulting, LLC - Maple Grove, MN

· USGBC - LEED gets codified – ensuring a steady stream of supportive work; however, with LEED codified, the golden goose could be threatened – why would someone want to pay more for 3rd-party certification if the building is required to be “green”; however, I’m certain that the USGBC will sell classes on “code-compliance” in addition to becoming an “accredited professional” – represented on the PCHC by a code advocate / consultant.
John Hogan
Representing USGBC - Senior Code Development - City of Seattle DCLU

· Architecture schools - what better way to increase your teaching load than to increase the requirements for graduating students – plus, what about those grants and research dollars needed to determine the life-cycle benefits of systems, materials, and practices – represented on the PCHC by an AIA member.
Dennis A. Andrejko, FAIA
Representing AIA - Associate Professor of Architecture - Universityat Buffalo, Department of Architecture

· ASTM - think of all those products that require testing – to verify the “greenness” toward compliance – plus, life-cycle analysis of building materials, etc. will be very lucrative – represented on the PCHC by an AIA member, who is a principal in a MEP engineering firm.
Dru Meadows, AIA, CCS, FCSI
Representing ASTM International - Mathis Consulting Company - Asheville, NC

· Environmental Consultants - how will most owners navigate the requirements without a specialized environmental consultant? – represented on the PCHC by an environmental consultant, and an M-arch holder working with a MEP engineering firm.
R. Christopher Mathis, SMArchS
President, Mathis Consulting Company - Asheville, NC
Kimberly Wagoner
Representing EPA WaterSense Program - Environmental Eng. - Eastern Research Group, Inc.Chantilly, VA

· Stakeholders - no liability or effort – just opportunities galore – represented by three members of the PCHC.
Richard C. Morgan, PMP
Austin Energy/City of Austin, TX - Austin Energy Green Building Manager
Maureen Guttman, AIA
Representing AIA - Executive Director, Governor's Green Gov. Council -Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection id=23222535&authType=name&authToken=mv1l&pvs=pp
Robert (Robin) White, LEED AP
Product Manager, Marketing Retail Sales and Development - Alabama Power Company - Birmingham, AL

· Lawyers - big winners - so many more ways to sue design professionals – now, for non-compliance with the building code – no representation on the PCHC; however, considering their “win”, you’d think they ran the committee.

· Insurers (E & O) - not at first, but they’ll discover how to increase deductibles and write policy exclusions for many of the IGCC inclusions – as with “mold-liability”, they’ll discover how to eliminate and/or reduce coverage – no representation on the PCHC, but they’re aware of the issues and are formulating policies accordingly (according to my “friendly” insurance insider).

Winner / Loser (borderline):

· Municipalities - maintaining records of required submissions for performance, etc. – enforcement requirements – personnel training – expense of more qualified personnel to administer; however, I can already see the “checklists” being generated that throw the responsibility and requirements on the “design professional” – after all, the city has no real liability – by law – so they need someone to accept the responsibility (blame) – represented by three members of the PCHC.
Ken Kraus
Los Angeles Fire Department
Anthony C. Floyd, AIA, LEED AP
Green Building Program Manager - City of Scottsdale, AZ
Rebecca Baker, CBO
Director of Building Safety - Jefferson County - Golden, CO


· Practicing Architectsbig loser - more effort, more liability, more reporting, and more responsibility – all for the same fee – supposedly represented by two to four members of the PCHC; however, none of the representatives truly acted in the interests of AIA members (see my discussion below).

The Public Comment Hearing Committee (PCHC) includes four members of the AIA – but whom are they really representing?

A. Vernon Woodworth, AIA
“Representing AIA “- Associate Principal, R.W. Sullivan, Inc. - Boston, MA W. Sullivan is a large MEP / Fire Protection Engineering firm. Commissioning Agents (aka mechanical engineers) are large “winners” in the IGCC, so I can’t imagine that an “associate principal” in a MEP firm could represent architects.

Dennis A. Andrejko, FAIA
“Representing AIA” - Associate Professor of Architecture - University at Buffalo, Department of Architecture
Teacher first – practitioner second…Architecture schools are also “winners” in the IGCC, so I can’t imagine that an associate professor of architecture could fully represent architects that depend on their practices as the sole means of support.

Dru Meadows, AIA, CCS, FCSI
“Representing ASTM International” - Mathis Consulting Company - Asheville, NC
This one’s easy. This AIA member represents ASTM International. ASTM is also a “winner” in the IGCC, so forget AIA representation through Mathis Consulting.

Maureen Guttman, AIA
“Representing AIA” - Executive Director, Governor's Green Government Council - Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection Bureaucrat first – AIA second – governmental agents have no liability whatsoever. There’s no way that a bureaucrat will look out for the interests of practicing architects. Their responsibility is to look out for their employer – in this case, the state.

So, even though (at least) four AIA members serve on the IGCC Public Comment Hearing Committee, none REALLY represent the interests of AIA members – all represent other interests…so, it’s no wonder that practicing architects are getting the “short-straw”.

What possessed the AIA – allowing it to totally ignore the practicing professionals, who comprise the core of its membership?

I can certainly understand why the ICC doesn’t want practicing architects making policy (If questions like mine were asked during the IGCC-formulation process, the code might not have been where it is now); but the AIA?

So here’s the real issue: is the AIA so concerned about its sustainability “mission statement” that it’s afraid of what its constituency might say – that practice matters might overrule “progressive” matters? And, how can the AIA rationalize supporting the onerous requirements within the IGCC that impact the financial health of every practitioner? Those are questions that every practicing architect should ask their national, state, and local AIA directors, and that’s the basis of my next article:

6 - The IGCC is totally unnecessary - A practical guide to fighting back against the IGCC.

BTW: LEED is a trademark of the U. S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

4 - The IGCC is totally unnecessary – It requires extensive municipal code-effort to comply with

As a continuation to my previous commentary on the IGCC; this article involves two aspects: a) the effort by a municipality to perform permit-reviews; and, b) the effort by the A/E to prepare documents for permit-submission.

a) Getting a building permit in the City of Houston (my hometown jurisdiction – C of H) is a pain. That’s because the C of H utilizes a “thorough-plan-review” system, which gives broad powers to the plans examiners, and less power to the field-inspectors. Unfortunately, the pain increased when the city underfunded its pension obligations, and many experienced plan-examiners / inspectors “retired” to take advantage of generous benefits. Now that the C of H has a true “budget crisis” (endemic to most municipalities), I expect the pain to increase further. The C of H recently announced that “pink slips” will be distributed through all departments – including the permit-review department. So not only will the C of H be understaffed, but the experience-level of the plans-examiners was already, and now is further, weakened. Don’t believe me? Click on this link to see the wide-spread financial problems impacting cities – click on the second link to see the impact on states:

Enter the International Green Construction Code (IGCC). A review of the code provisions shows that the plans-examiner must be educated and capable in reviewing the following required permit (submitted) documents:

· Inventory and assessment of “natural resources and baseline conditions” of the building site (402.3.1),
· Design to elimination of potable water abuse - for irrigation systems (402.3.*),
· Design of “reclaimed or collected rainwater” systems - for ornamental fountains and water features (402.3.4),
· A Soil and water quality protection plan (402.3.5.1)(406.6),
· Calculations for compliance with the limitations on “turfgrass” planting on the project site (402.3.5.7),
· A building site waste management plan – including methodology toward recycling or salvaging 75+% of site soils, “rocks, trees, stumps, and associated vegetation” (402.3.6),
· Calculations for compliance with the requirement for showering and changing facilities (if long-term bicycle parking is required in 403.3) (403.2) – documentation of the facility-design is required if compliance is mandated,
· Calculations for compliance with the requirement for long term and short term bicycle parking (chart of compliance requirements included in IGCC (403.3) – documentation showing bicycle locations and signage is required if compliance is mandated,
· Calculations for compliance with the requirement for preferred “high-occupancy vehicle parking” (403.4.1) – documentation showing parking locations and signage is required if compliance is mandated,
· Calculations for compliance with the requirement for preferred “low-emission, hybrid, and electric vehicle parking” (403.4.2) – documentation showing parking locations and signage is required if compliance is mandated,
· Submission of 10-year canopy growth of all planted trees, and canopy-contribution of existing trees – including shading calculations (404.2.3),
· Calculations for reduction or elimination of light pollution (405.1),
· Written periodic maintenance protocol for all landscaping and stormwater management systems (406.6(3)),
· Basis-of-design utilized in determining compliance with the building material design-life (minimum mandated percentage) (503.2),
· A building-service-life-plan (505),
· The schedule-of-inspections (by an approved agency) for review of moisture control preventative measures – outside envelope,
· Details for compliance with the Zero-energy performance index (602.1),
· Usability of the building energy (model) simulation (603.5),
· Documentation reflecting the methods for ensuring energy metering-monitoring-reporting (604),
· Documentation ensuring offsite control of HVAC and lighting through Auto-DR interface (605.1,605.3,605.4),
· Design for rough-ins for “future” solar-hot-water systems (608.4),
· Design for plug load controls (609.6),
· Verification of inclusion (on the design team) of a commissioning agent (610.3.1),
· Design and delineation of on-site renewable power provisions – physical devices (611),
· Notations requiring post-occupancy re-commissioning-repeated 18-24 months after issuance of the C of O (612.3.5),
· Documentation requiring building envelope commissioning prior to issuance of the C of O (612.4),
· An indoor air quality management plan (in-place during construction) (801.2),
· Documentation stipulating the requirement for indoor air quality testing (after construction) – flush-out or IAQ-testing (804.3),
· Location and specification for required entry mats (804.4),
· Documentation reflecting the emission limits for “glued wood products” – interior and exterior (part of the “weather covering”) (806.1),
· STC ratings for exterior wall and roof assemblies (807.1-.5),
· Specifications for acoustics verification and testing (post construction) demonstrating compliance with the acoustic sections (807.5),
· “Daylit area” calculations to verify compliance with the required percentage of interior day-lighting (808.3),
· Commissioning Specifications and timetable for commissioning (903),
· Specifications stipulating O & M documentation, maintenance, and education (904.1-904.4),
· Specifications indicating the intervals and format for submission to the “local jurisdiction” of energy reporting / audits (904.1.1)(1003.3.1),

Frankly, there’s no way that the plans-examiner (primarily due to skills, pay, and energy levels) will review all (if any) of these code-mandated requirements; so guess what, the list of requirements will turn into a checklist – a checklist that (you guessed it) the architect (and other consultants) will be required to complete and verify through the construction documents. And this leads me to “b” – the second aspect of this article.

b) Envision the amount of additional work that the A/E will be required to perform in order to submit and obtain a building permit, since all of the submission-requirements listed above must be included in the “construction documents”. The IGCC is very specific:
“Documentation for compliance verification is based upon:

“Construction documents [that] shall be dimensioned and drawn upon suitable material. …Construction documents shall be of sufficient clarity to indicate the location, nature and extent of the work proposed and show in detail that such work will conform to the provisions of this code and relevant laws, ordinances, rules and regulations, as determined by the code official. The construction documents shall contain a listing of the applicable project electives in accordance with Section 303, and shall include the applicable commissioning requirements in accordance with Section 903. Where special conditions exist, the code official is authorized to require additional construction documents.

“Project Electives (if required by the jurisdiction) shall be selected by the owner. “Such project electives shall be applied as mandatory requirements to the project and shall be indicated to the code official by means of completion of Table 303.1. The submitted construction documents shall include a completed copy of Table 303.1 indicating which project electives that the owner has selected as a means to comply with Section 303.1. The total number of project electives selected shall be in accordance with the minimum number of project electives indicated by the jurisdiction in Table 302.1. The Project electives selected shall be applied and enforced as mandatory requirements.”

What joy – more effort and more liability – because, what now is an additional, elective service (LEED), would become (if the IGCC is adopted) multiple code-mandated requirements.

There’s no doubt that the IGCC requires extensive municipal code-effort to comply with its provisions – mostly falling on the shoulders of the A/E professional. For this reason, I contend that the IGCC is totally unnecessary.

Next time: 5 - The IGCC is totally unnecessary – It financially rewards those who promote its “necessity”…

BTW: LEED is a trademark of the U. S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system.