Montgomery County, Maryland recently passed new green building requirements, including adoption of the 2012 International Green Construction Code. Montgomery County was one of the first jurisdictions in the country to enact a green building law in late 2007. Now, county officials have repealed the original law and replaced it with Executive Regulation 21-15 that will likely reduce requirements for many new buildings.
There are some pretty big changes brought about by the new law, which took effect on December 27, 2017 and includes a six month grace period for projects already under design. New projects permitted after June 27, 2018 will need to comply with the following:
- Projects 5,000 gross square feet and larger must comply, lowered from 10,000 gsf.
- Buildings must meet the 2012 International Green Construction Code (IgCC), replacing the requirement that buildings must meet LEED Certified criteria.
- Residential projects under five stories must use ICC-700/NGBS at the Silver Energy Performance Level.
- R-2 and R-4 portions of Mixed-Use buildings may comply with ICC-700/NGBS and the non-residential portion shall comply with the IgCC or the entire building may comply with IgCC or ASHRAE 189.1
- R-1, non-residential and R-1/Mixed-Use projects may select IgCC, ASHRAE 189.1 or LEED Silver with eight points or more under the Whole Building Energy Simulation path.
- All buildings using the IgCC compliance pathway must achieve a Zero Energy Performance Index (zEPI) score of 50 or lower.
IgCC Application and Documentation Process
Project teams required to meet the new law should complete the Commercial Green Building Application. In addition, prior to permit application for New Construction or Addition, project teams must attend a preliminary design consultation with DPS to discuss IgCC compliance options. Teams are encouraged to pay particular attention to the Code Analysis Checklist within the application, which must be completed. A red star indicates mandatory provisions of the code.
A second checklist in the application covers the commissioning requirements and necessary field verification requirements for the project’s Commissioning Agent.
Montgomery County Green Building Code Overview
- Expands the number of eligible projects by reducing the minimum project size to 5,000 square feet. Under the old law, many smaller projects were able to avoid addressing sustainability. Now, almost all new commercial and multifamily projects will need to incorporate some form of sustainability. Despite shrinking the minimum project size, the law does not require tenant spaces or alterations to existing structures to meet green requirements.
- Some flexibility was added to allow an alternative compliance pathway for project teams that wish to continue using LEED by certifying at the Silver level under the v4 commercial rating systems while earning a minimum number of points in the Optimize Energy Performance credit. This is important for projects seeking to earn property tax exemption for LEED gold or higher rated buildings.
- Eliminates LEED for Homes and Multifamily Midrise. Unfortunately, the new green building code specifically excludes LEED for Homes and Multifamily Midrise as a compliance option, with allowance only considered through a Code Modification request. In our experience, LEED v4 Multifamily Midrise is as rigorous as LEED NC, and its credits are better suited for a residential building than LEED NC, which was designed for commercial office buildings.
- IgCC Modifications. The county eliminated enough IgCC requirements so that projects won’t need to stretch too much beyond base building codes in order to meet the requirements of the new law.
- zEPI Requirements. By pushing buildings to meet a stated zEPI 50 (50% lower energy use than an average 2000 building), Montgomery County is making a clear goal of lowering the carbon impact of buildings. However, this may come at the expense of more holistic sustainability goals and measures since so many other green building features were eliminated from the code requirements.
Wondering which pathway to use for your new project? Confused about the IgCC requirements? We can help! Contact us here.
Andrea Foss, Sustainability Director
Sean Fish, Senior Sustainability Consultant