If you still think life cycle assessments (LCA) won’t ultimately make it into the mainstream, discussions held during today’s International Code Council hearings of the International green Construction Code (igCC) should make you think again.

Mike Fischer with the Kellen Company, representing the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry, proposed GG87, which concerned a change to section 303.1, Whole Building Life Cycle Assessments. His proposal would revise “building operational energy shall be included,” to say “The life cycle assessment shall include all regulated loads throughout the building operations life cycle stage. Building energy performance shall be determined in accordance with Appendix G of ASHRAE 90.1. Primary energy use savings and emissions avoidance for the project and reference designs shall be determined in accordance with ASHRAE 105.”

In his reasoning, he noted “IgCC contains reference for building energy use and primary energy use savings without clear direction on how to determine the project versus reference designs. By linking the required valuation to the appropriate ASHRAE standards the IgCC will be able to provide a clear and consistent path to a proper evaluation of energy performance … Appendix G of ASHRAE 90.1 is referenced in Chapter 6 for the determination of building energy use … ASHRAE 105 is an appropriate means by which to determine primary energy savings and emissions reductions, via conversion factors from site energy to primary energy, and provides guidance on how to determine global warming potential.” The approval was ultimately disapproved.

GG81, section 303, 303.1, proposed byHope Medina, representing Cherry Hills Villageproposed deleting the section on Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment without substitution.She argued that the section is vaguely defined, and asked: “How is the end user going to demonstrate that the project has a 20 percent improvement in environmental performance for global warming potential?”

A member who voted against this deletion said, “LCA is being taught extensively at local universities. If we talk about removing this from the code we would be taking a major step back. The proposal was disapproved unanimously.

GG98 looked at the issue of ecotoxicity. Although there are many environmental impact categories, only five are included in the first edition of the IgCC (global warming potential, acidification potential, eutrophication potential, ozone depletion potential, and smog potential.) These five environmental impact categories were included because, at the time of development of the first edition of the IgCC, each had an internationally established method to back its characterization factors. In the last three years, the eco-toxicity model (USEtox) has been significantly revised and refined its characterization factors for eco-toxicity, and they have been incorporated into the LCA tools. “Thus we propose including eco-toxicity as an environmental impact category in the IgCC. Also, we propose to increase the required number of impacts for compliance to three plus global warming potential,” according to the proposal which was disapproved.

Tom Culp, representing the Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) and arguing for disapproval, pointed out that this proposal was disapproved in the last codes cycle. Another member who supported disapproval said, “The EPA is better suited to determine what toxicity is and to regulate how building owners use the components in buildings.”

The proposal was disapproved 11-1.

The IgCC code hearings are taking place all this week in Memphis, Tenn. Stay tuned to USGNN.com™ for more updates as they are made available.