Wading through the various layers of requirements, enticements, incentives and regulations that apply to green building can be overwhelming to anyone, let alone the uninitiated. This process is made far more complicated by adding the layering of federal, state, and local government efforts in this field.
The United States Green Building Council has this effort very easy with regards to LEED related public policy searches. USGBC has a search engine with multiple selectable criteria to sift through the oceans of regulations to find what you are looking for. I cannot say the entire database is perfect, but I can say that it appeared that the Virginia state and local discussion was basically accurate, including the status of the green building ordinances in Arlington County, Fairfax County, and the City of Alexandria.
USGBC naturally has an interest in promoting the USGBC’s interests with its efforts and these tools are no exception. The only pet peeve I have is that some of the commentary seems to slant the discussion entirely towards LEED standards without a recognition of the role other standards may play in these regulations. For example, the USGBC description of the City of Alexandria policy states,
On April 18, 2009, the Alexandria City Council adopted their Green Building Policy requiring all new municipal buildings to achieve LEED Silver certification and all new commercial buildings to achieve LEED Silver certification. The policy also requires all new residential buildings to be LEED Certified with the intention of increasing the standard over time.
In reality, the City of Alexandria policy expressly recognizes the ANSI approved ICC-700 2008 National Green Building Standard for residential construction. The ICC-700 standard was developed by the National Association of Home Builders in partnership with the International Code Council. The City’s overall adopted standard further provides that while LEED is typical, to the extent equivalent rating systems are available and can be demonstrated as equivalent to the Director of Planning and zoning, they are also acceptable.
That limited comment notwithstanding, the USGBC search engine is a great free tool to dig out federal, state and local requirements. Careful and prudent use will require clicking through to the underlying source links and maybe digging a bit for confirmation, but used carefully the search tool can save a ton of time and effort.
Image by Timothy Valentine