As you’re reading these words, the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) is rolling out. Now, usually whenever the word “code” comes up in conversations among members of the design and construction industry, a tightening of the stomach is almost inevitable. Let me suggest that a different response may be in order this time.

Since the AIA took a leadership role in developing the code, with several architects drafting the document as voting members of the committee, the voice of the profession was heard. And as the code was shaped, there were many opportunities along the way for public comment. This feedback helped create language that was both flexible and focused on achieving the ultimate goal of a high-performing commercial-building stock. In the AIA’s terms, which were embraced by the International Code Council, that means another step toward carbon neutrality by 2030.

The code is performance-based. Although the code mandates frameworks for both minimum and advanced high-performance projects, it encourages one of the profession’s greatest strengths: design thinking. It returns to the architect a leading role in determining how buildings actually work, and it encourages innovation for compliance.

Having come this far in working with architects to develop the first code of this type, the AIA will not now shift the task of understanding and working with the IgCC solely onto the architect. The Institute still shoulders a responsibility to help architects understand the implications of the code for design and practice. This includes, among other matters, how the code will address site issues such as water or access to public transit and the way that the code will take into account different climates.

In May, the AIA will release a primer on the IgCC that will explain what architects need to know about using the code. The release of the primer during the annual Convention is no accident. Attendees will have access to workshops specifically targeted at understanding and working with the IgCC. Similar information will be available to AIA components to help answer questions about it that pertain to local conditions. And, over time, the Institute will closely monitor and address design and practice issues that arise in the continued development of the model code.

Many people have worked long hours to bring us to this point. The AIA won’t step back now. The more architects there are who understand how to use the code, the better-equipped the profession will be to serve our communities and provide increased value to our clients. That’s the future America deserves.

Jeff Potter, FAIA, 2012 President