Posted on July 6, 2011 by Kirk Dryer

The International Green Construction Code (IGCC) is a model code for cities seeking to promote sustainable building practices through their building codes. The IGCC promotes transition from the current voluntary green construction certifications, like USGBC’s LEED, to mandatory green construction codes. As the most recent revisions of the IGCC are currently under review, Green Building Law Update hopes to promote awareness by examining some of the code sections.

Section 611.1: Renewable energy systems requirements. Buildings that consume energy shall comply with this section. Each building or surrounding lot or building site where there are multiple buildings on the building site shall be equipped with one or more renewable energy systems in accordance with this section.

There seems to be a new solar energy headline everyday. The DOE recently announced $4.5 billion in solar energy guarantees,  Boeing plans to build the largest solar roof in the U.S., and even President Obama is working to put solar panels back on top of the White House. Nowadays, photovoltaic panels are apparently so affordable that even some of India’s poor have given up on India’s unreliable grid in favor of solar energy.
As new financing options and advancing technologies continue to lower the upfront costs of photovoltaic solar panel installation, solar panel-covered roofs are quickly becoming all the rage. The IGCC requirement for every energy consuming building to have an onsite renewable energy source will likely lead even more building owners to install solar panels.
The IGCC allows either photovoltaic solar panels, wind energy, or solar water heating to meet the onsite renewable energy requirement. Wind energy is also growing rapidly but the scale of the wind turbines and various location and wind requirements make it an unlikely energy source for many building sites.  The lack of a viable wind alternative leaves solar power as the most likely energy source to satisfy this IGCC requirement.
Like many renewable energy sources, solar panels have been around for years but they have struggled to break into the mainstream energy market. As more cities adopt the IGCC requiring onsite renewable energy, can the IGCC help solar panels go mainstream? Or will this solar trend be as fleeting as President Carter’s White House solar panels?

Photo Credit: agahran

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