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Green building codes

Housing is one of the principal contributors to environmental impact in our region. If we can create a code that both inspires and informs us of ways to more effectively address our housing needs, our entire region will be the better for it.

The International Residential Code (IRC) for One-and Two-Family Dwellings has begun to incorporate many of the measures that are at the heart of making structures green. This is the code jurisdiction that has shaped most of the Ohio Residential Code (though the state often uses years old versions of the code).

All cities in Ohio that have code enforcing entities as part of their governance structure must observe the Ohio Residential Code for One-and Two-Family Dwellings, but they can also add measures which are not in conflict with the code that is currently being observed by the State (e.g., if our region would like to raise our standards for energy savings, we can do so. For example, the town homes in Cleveland’s Ecovillage heat and cool for one third the cost of conventional homes. If we multiply those savings by every new home built in our region, we can have a dramatic effect on energy requirements).

The time may be right to create a green building or sustainable code that will remain on the cutting edge of this kind of building in the future. Instead of being an appendix, it needs to be a basic building code document that incorporates the IRC and state appropriate content.

The International Residential Code helps create a common playing field for all players in the housing game, but this code must always be adapted to the conditions set by the climate in a given bioregion. A green building/sustainable code can provide this.

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