Times, They Are A Changin’

Times, They Are A Changin’

As many of you may or may not have heard, the City of Dallas will be implementing Phase II of the Green Building Program on October 1, 2013.  What does this mean and how does it affect me, you may ask?

For many architecture and engineering firms around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, this will change the review process quite a bit.  In Phase I of the Green Building Code, a third party reviewer is able to review and approve plans and inspections for projects within their own company.  Under the new Phase II Code of Conduct, this will no longer be allowed.  There will be a new policy related to conflict of interest, which specifically states the Green Building Third Party Reviewer must actually be a third party to the project and the firms involved.  Even the LEED consultant will not be allowed to be the third party green consultant. I anticipate some push back from the community for this last requirement if your project is going through LEED certification, and the city will continue to review all comments they receive over the first year Phase II is implemented.

So, for now, architecture and engineering firms, as well as sustainability consultants, across Dallas are going to have to learn to start helping each other out.  One architecture firm will now potentially be hiring another architecture firm to do their green plan review and inspection.

In addition to the revised Code of Conduct, Phase II also revises the requirements of the Third Party Providers.  Previously, under Phase I a provider became eligible by having a LEED AP designation, IECC certification, or simply one year of experience in Green building enforcement.  Phase II now requires that all providers either have a LEED AP with specialty designation, ICC certification for plan review and inspections, or are a Green Built Texas Verifier (for residential providers only).  Phase II eliminated the IECC designation and LEED AP without specialty, which has greatly reduced the number of qualified third party providers.  All Phase II providers must also attend separate six-hour training courses and pass exams for both residential and commercial.  Previously, providers would attend a single two-hour training course for both commercial and residential with no exam. You will want to check with any providers you may have contracted with in the past to ensure their compliance with the Phase II requirements as a third party provider.

The City of Dallas has also increased the requirements in which a building design must follow in order to pass the Green Building plan review and inspection. 

Commercial buildings may follow one of three path options: 
 - Design the building to meet a minimum of 40 points as part of the LEED 2009 rating system;
 - Meet the minimum requirements for certification under the ASHRAE 189.1 program; or
 - Follow the new Chapter 61 Dallas Green Construction Code. The Dallas Green Construction Code has adopted specific chapters of the 2012 IgCC, with amendments.  This code is much more stringent than the requirements under the Phase I Green Code.

Residential buildings may follow one of four path options: 
 - Follow the requirements of ICC-700 2008 with a minimum of 222 points;
 - Meet the requirements of LEED for Homes 2008 with a minimum of 45 points;
 - Meet the requirements of Green Built Texas v3 mandatory provisions; or
 - Follow the Dallas Residential Green Code prescriptive requirements. The Dallas prescriptive path is by far the least restrictive path option, but in some cases, other path options may be best suited for the site or building.

The City of Dallas will be updating their website in the coming days to include a Phase II Green Building page.  This website will have a PDF version of the newly adopted Dallas Green Construction Code for both residential and commercial buildings.  This will list in detail all requirements and path options.  Also on this website will be the updated list of Phase II third party providers.

Why all these changes?  The City of Dallas has a goal of being carbon neutral by 2030, and this is one big step towards that goal.  Cities across the United States are beginning to adopt the 2012 International Green Construction Code (IgCC), as a whole or in parts, and the City of Dallas Green Construction Code is Dallas’ first attempt at adopting the 2012 IgCC.  As a new code to follow, there may be a few hiccups in the beginning, but we believe this is a great step forward by the City of Dallas.

At th+a, environmental responsibility is a cornerstone of our practice. As part of our commitment to sustainable development, we are now fully accredited to be Dallas Green Building Phase II service providers. We’ll keep you updated as things progress at City Hall.  In the meantime, please feel free to contact us with any questions or requests for third party services.