Officials propose greener building codes

December 12, 2012

The District of Columbia has recently released a revised set of building codes for the greater metro area that proposes to increase the sustainability of new construction projects. Sustainable Business Oregon reports that builders in the area will have to adjust their procedures to comply with all the new green building codes that will apply to all new or substantially renovated commercial buildings that are larger than 10,000 square feet and multifamily residences four stories or higher.

The proposed codes will make buildings in the district use 30 percent less energy than new projects under the current regulations. Building codes were last amended in D.C. in 2006, but now the city is pushing the establishment of stricter regulations.

"[The new codes express] our strong commitment to being a national and global leader in sustainable building practices. My vision for the District is for our buildings to use energy and water far more efficiently – greatly reducing our carbon emissions, conserving our natural resources and helping property owners save substantial amounts of money," Mayor Vincent Gray said in a statement, according to the news source.

Codes established in 2006 catapulted the D.C. metro into a new wave of sustainable construction. Experts believe that the plans put in by municipal officials to improve the energy efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of new construction projects have helped improve the city. While the codes were enacted in 2006, commercial compliance with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System comprised by the U.S. Green Building Council was not mandatory until 2009 for private projects.

Metro-centric proposals to improve sustainability with green design are growing. The U.S. Department of Energy established the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) to improve energy efficiency of buildings in Pennsylvania and promote regional economic growth. The agency was intended as an Energy-Regional Innovation Center, intent on driving the inclusion of green construction techniques and the incorporate of sustainable design, which is also a primary goal of officials supporting the revamping of building codes in D.C.

By focusing on promoting green building practices in one regional area, officials are making small changes one step at a time to lessen the environmental impact of modern civilization.