Demand Rises For Sustainable And Safe Structures

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

Constructing energy-efficient buildings favorably impacts the economic development of communities, meets consumer demand, and saves valuable resources. Week four of the International Code Council’s Building Safety Month 2013, sponsored by the American Gas Association, focuses on energy and green buildings. Efficient buildings can improve energy security, reduce stress on the power grid and on natural gas supplies, improve local air quality, and save money, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.

The earliest building codes addressed fire prevention, structural reliability, and other fundamental safety factors. Green practices in the construction industry are a next step in the evolution of safety codes—the guidelines cities and states use to ensure public safety in buildings.

While green is a popular topic today, safe and sustainable construction dates back at least 40 years to the 1973 energy crisis. Today, three major documents based on the most current building science available are used to construct sustainable buildings: the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), and the National Green Building Standard ICC 700-2012.

A World Green Building Council report says green buildings have been shown to save money through reduced energy and water consumption and lower long-term operations and maintenance costs. The energy savings alone typically exceed any cost premiums associated with design and construction within a reasonable payback period.

A McGraw-Hill Construction survey says construction companies worldwide are shifting their business toward green building, with 51% of respondents saying they expect more than 60% of their work to be green by 2015.