Three Reasons To Stay Up to Date with Sustainable Building Codes

March 9, 2017

When it comes to being environmentally conscious and leading a “green” lifestyle, everything from coffee cups to cars play an important role today. Of all the things that people use on a daily basis, what uses the most energy? It may not come as a surprise that the answer is buildings. Roughly 40% of total U.S. energy consumption is consumed in residential and commercial buildings each year. That number used to be even higher. In 1975, the first building codes were enacted to regulate energy use. Since then, buildings are consuming 50% less and the demand for sustainable building has continued to intensify.

In order to continue to minimize energy consumption and encourage sustainable building, international building codes are updated every 3 years. So, what does this mean for a contractor or building owner? It means investing in sustainable building practices in order to be successful and competitive in today’s market. Here are the top three reasons to stay up to date with the building codes in your jurisdiction:

1. Save money

The upfront costs of keeping up with building codes may be high, but staying up to date with the latest technology is important from a business perspective for a few reasons. One, if you have the latest technology when it comes to heating and cooling, the monthly and yearly costs of maintaining your building will be decreased exponentially. On average, the savings on your electrical bill will refund your investment in roughly two years.

Additionally, contractors that aren’t investing in keeping up with buildings codes will inevitably miss out on contracts and other opportunities based on the current wants and behaviors of the market.

2. Promote tenant health & productivity

Studies find that occupants of “green” buildings are happier and healthier, and in the case of office buildings, more productive. From the physical attributes of the building, such as smart appliances, cool roofs, LED lighting, in addition to factors like air circulation and VOC-free carpets, tenants of these buildings have less sick time and are more content in their office or living situation. As a result, market demand for green buildings is very high and tenants are looking for the benefits that sustainable buildings offer.

3. Foster positive relationship with the community and market

It’s important to stay up to date with the codes in each jurisdiction to maintain a PR-friendly image. Keeping up with sustainable building codes communicates corporate social responsibility and helps maintain a positive relationship within the community.  Studies show that corporate social responsibility, environmental stewardship, community involvement, and workplace well-being all matter and bring profitability.

Sustainable building is mainstream and will continue to expand its market share in the years to come. As of January 2017, approximately 50% of all non-residential construction is green. Having an attorney on your risk management team is one way to stay ahead of the curve.

Questions? Reach out to attorney Tracy Steedman via email at tsteedman@adelberg.com or over the phone at 410-986-0822.

Note on the Author: Tracy Steedman is a member of the American Bar Association (ABA) Forum on Construction Law. She spoke at the Midwinter Meeting this past February 2017 on “The Winds of Change are Blowing: Staying Ahead of the Sustainability Trends in Building Codes and Regulations.” The panel covered how states and municipalities are adapting existing development regulations and building codes to improve sustainability through code and standard adoption.


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