Wednesday, April 6, 2011

6 - The IGCC is totally unnecessary - A practical guide - fighting toxic baggage within the IGCC.

To coin a simple metaphor, the IGCC “has left the station” - as a fast-moving train – filled with “toxic baggage” (for practicing architects). At this stage of development, it’s impossible to stop it - but, there’s still time to affect the toxicity of the “baggage” that’s delivered. Some, such as Craig Conner, ), have made valiant efforts by submitting written comments to the ICC. You can see the written comments of all contributors by downloading: The ICC will review Craig’s (and all other) comments during code-development hearings being held in Dallas on May 16, 2011 through May 22, 2011. That’s a great effort; however, there’s more that can and should be done. Here’s a practical guide for fighting against the “toxic baggage” within the IGCC:

  1. Communicate with other professionals. Call, email, text, write, Skype, tweet, send carrier pigeons – whatever – to other architects that you know, or don’t know, about the series that I’ve published on the AIA Knowledge Net. If they find anything incorrect in what’s stated, let them comment and initiate discussions; but, spread the word – to every architect. This is serious stuff. Your (and their) practice (whether you work for yourself or another firm) will be affected – whether you work in commercial or residential architecture (as I’ve stated, the International Green Residential Construction Code is “on target”). Regardless of your preference for “green” and “sustainability” – regardless of your preference toward climate change – regardless of your political-party affiliation – the viability of your architectural practice WILL be affected by the IGCC – and you need to inject yourself, and other architects, into the discussion.

  2. Comment on the IGCC to the International Code Council (ICC). There’s another public comment period from May 27th to August 12th. It’s a great opportunity for architects (and other interested individuals) to impact the final IGCC. Go to the ICC website at the following URL: Review the IGCC; then, download and submit a public comment form (available May 27th). The more that architects comment on onerous (toxic) inclusions, the better chance that many of the code-provisions will be removed or re-written. You can also attend the hearings in Dallas (see the schedule in FYI-2) and participate in the code-hearings. Membership in the ICC is not required. Just visit the ICC website for information.

  3. Demand better representation from the AIA. (See below in “FYI-1” a summary of the representation of the AIA to-date, specifically relating to the IGCC) More pressure should be exerted on our representative body – the AIA – to eliminate all the “toxic baggage” from the adopted IGCC. To that end, I suggest that practicing architects write letters to the national, (your) state, and (your) local AIA chapters – targeting the officers; as well as writing emails to Mark Wills (manager of code advocacy for the AIA – ). Request answers to the following questions (without emotion or embellishment):

a. How many architect-practitioners (whose sole income is derived from architectural practice) participated directly in the writing of and/or the reviewing of the IGCC? – From how many parts of the country did they come? – How were they selected? b. Why did the AIA not poll its members to determine if supporting the IGCC (in its draft form) was supported by the membership (not initially, but after the drafts emerged)? c. Why has the AIA not written and distributed its own complete section-by-section review of the provisions within the IGCC? – Why has the AIA not requested written comments from its members for their thoughts about specific provisions within the IGCC? Why has the AIA not disclosed (to all members) the full impact of the IGCC on practicing architects? d. How does the AIA intend to assist practicing architects in implementing the requirements within the IGCC? – if through re-writing owner/architect agreements, then why should any code be so convoluted as to require changed contracts in order to implement its provisions? e. How can the AIA rationalize supporting the onerous requirements within the IGCC that impact the financial health of every practitioner? f. And, every officer and decision-maker in the national, (your) state, and (your) local AIA should be told loud and clear that: i. The AIA should not be in the business of making financial losers out of its members, ii. The AIA should remove its public support of the IGCC until the detrimental aspects (to the practice of architecture) are removed from the requirements of the IGCC, and iii. The AIA should actively lobby against adoption of the IGCC (by municipal, county, and state authorities) until the code is fully “revenue-neutral” for architects, and fully non-toxic toward architectural practices and practitioners.

In summary, the ICC intends to publish the International Green Construction Code in March 2012. A year from now, the “green-code-train will reach the station” – nothing can stop it – but, the “baggage” that’s delivered can be much-less or even totally non-toxic to practicing architects – but only if practitioners make the effort to communicate, comment, and demand. Because, where the wheels meet the rails, that is what architects do best.

Next: 7 - The IGCC is totally unnecessary – if all else fails, offer another service.

FYI-1: The Codes-and-Standards Knowledge Net Community has a webpage at: While visiting the page, open the link to the 2011 Grassroots Legislative and Leadership Conference – also, click on the “presentation” link. The presentation is a compilation of 102 PowerPoint presentation “slides” from an AIA “Grassroots” gathering titled “The IGCC & Its Impact On The Practice Of Architecture (February 2, 2011 and February 5, 2011) – the slides represent a “cheerleader’s” look at the pros (91 pages), and the cons (“Effects on the Profession” - 11 pages of concerns) of the IGCC. Nowhere is there a listing of specific concerns related to specific sections / inclusions in the IGCC. The bottom line to the “Grassroots” presentation is: Adoption of the IGCC will enable architects to avoid the “ADA syndrome” relative to “sustainability”. Additionally, you can link to “talking points” – a publication that discussed how to “sell” the IGCC to decision (law) makers – and, you can link to an “Issue Brief – helpful document” - a publication that offers (among other things) five issues that the AIA has been able to dissuade the ICC from including in the IGCC relating to: Building Shape, Commissioning, Design Reports, Greenfields, and Energy Efficiency / Social Engineering.

FYI-2: Here’s a chart of the implementation schedule for the IGCC (beyond March, 2011) – according to the schedule adopted by the ICC: 2011 IGCC Code Development Hearing May 16-22, 2011 Sheraton Dallas Hotel Dallas, TX 2011

IGCC Code Development Hearing Results To be posted May 27, 2011

Report of Public Hearing Posted To be posted June 27, 2011

Public comment form To be posted May 27, 2011

Deadline for receipt of Public Comments August 12, 2011

Public Comments Final Action Agenda Posted To be posted September 16, 2011

2011 IGCC Final Action Hearing Schedule TBD

2011 IGCC Final Action Hearing November 2-6, 2011 Phoenix Convention Center Phoenix, AZ

2011 Final Action Hearing Results To be posted November 11, 2011

2011 Summary of Final Action on all Code Changes To be posted November 18, 2011

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