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Greening the Codes: Building Codes Begin to Broaden Their Charge to Include Human and Environmental Impacts of Buildings into Their Health and Safety Mission

The rapidly growing awareness of a larger set of hazards created by the cumulative impacts of buildings on human and environmental health has brought about the need for a contemporary step change in the purview of the codes. This time, a change was prompted by the recognition that not all hazards related to the built environment are tied to acute building failures or cataclysmic events.

There is a new and different kind of step change—one that requires focused attention to providing for healthy and active lifestyles, preserving the natural environment, conserving resources and addressing the toxicity of materials and processes. This “greening” of baseline regulatory minimums is the result of two key developments: both a greater awareness of the need for change, and widespread practical experience with built projects that have been raising the bar at the leading edge of building design and construction. These two key elements have necessitated the long overdue inclusion of the building regulatory community in the now all‐inclusive green building conversation—a conversation that began with architects, engineers, designers and a handful of federal, state and local government authorities.

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