Green Building Standards

Green Building Standards

The Baltimore City Green Construction Code has been in place since April 2015, when Council Bill 14-0413 amended the City's existing mandatory green building law for commercial and multi-family residential buildings. 

Benefits of Green Building 

Green building is on the rise nationally and internationally because of the long-term benefits to owners, occupants, and society as a whole. In the United States, buildings alone account for almost 40 percent of CO2 emissions. High-density urban areas like Baltimore have an opportunity to reduce those emissions by mandating more efficient building practices. In addition to reducing emissions, green buildings tend to be more cost-effective to operate, use less water, produce less waste, provide healthier occupant conditions than traditional buildings, have higher occupancy rates, and be more valuable in the real estate marketplace.  

Baltimore City Green Construction Code

In accordance with the Baltimore City Building, Fire and Related Code, Part XI (Baltimore City Green Construction Code), all design, construction, addition, alteration, change of occupancy, relocation, replacement, repair, equipment, building site, maintenance, removal, and demolition of every structure and any appurtenances connected or attached to a structure and to the site on which the structure is located (except as otherwise exempted), must comply with the 2012 International Green Construction Code, as adopted by Ordinance 14-311, effective April 1, 2015, and subsequently amended.

Review the current Building, Fire, and Related Codes of Baltimore City, Part XI.

How Does It Work?

All permits for commercial and certain multi-family residential buildings are required to complete a Green Building Statement of Compliance to determine code applicability and identify a green building compliance path.

If the IgCC path is chosen, applicants must complete the Baltimore City Green checklist.

Compliance Paths

Per section 101.3 of Part X of the Baltimore City Building, Fire, and Related Codes, the following paths are acceptable choices to meet the green building law. 

Compliance Path Verification Documentation (Submit with Building Permit)
The current version of LEED Silver Proof of LEED registration when the design submittal stage is complete
NGBS - ICC/700 for multifamily and mixed-use Letter from approved NGBS certifier verifying project’s NBGS path submittal
ASHRAE 189.1 Letter from approved third-party certifier that project is designed to meet ASHRAE 189.1
IgCC as amended by Baltimore City in Part XI of the Baltimore City Building, Fire, and Related Codes. Completed Baltimore City Green Checklist along with plans and specs sufficiently documented to show required IgCC compliance
Other Any other nationally recognized standard must be pre-approved by the Building Official. For projects proposing to use another standard, a pre-development meeting is required prior to application submittal.
Exemption Justification statement (to be verified and approved by the Building Official)


Only projects registered under the BCGBS before December 31, 2015, may proceed under the old standard. All new permits and all projects submitted for e-plans review, no matter the square footage, must comply with the current green building law. 

Per section 101.3 of Part XI of the Baltimore City Building, Fire and Related Codes, the following projects are exempt: 

  1. 1- and 2-family dwellings regulated by the International Residential Code for 1- and 2-family dwellings
  2. Multi-family dwellings no more than 3 stories in height AND containing no more than 5 dwelling units 
  3. Temporary structures 
  4. Equipment or systems used for industrial or manufacturing

Any alterations to any existing buildings and building systems SHALL be completed in accordance with every applicable section of the IgCC. Chapter 10 requires alterations to existing buildings to go above and beyond basic green code compliance and requires improvements to be made to the existing buildings in the areas of water and energy efficiency. Only if the proposed alterations DO NOT meet one of the stated exceptions in Section 1003.2, then the project does not have to be constructed above and beyond the minimum IgCC Code requirements. 

For example, if a permit is pulled to renovate existing bathrooms and kitchen facilities in a commercial space, the permit must show compliance with Chapters 5 (materials), 7 (water), and possibly 8 (indoor environmental quality) of the IgCC. More than likely the above and beyond requirements of Chapter 10 requiring updates to water and energy throughout the building would not apply because this kind of renovation project would not exceed the minimum values established in table 1003.2 

NOTE: For interior tenant fit-outs less than 10,000 square feet and with no system upgrades, the scope of compliance can be limited. Justification must be noted on the statement of compliance form and all work must comply with IgCC Sections 503, 504, 506, 608, 609, and 702, IF APPLICABLE, and identify the same on plans and specs. 


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Construction Codes
International Green Construction Code (IgCC)
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
ASHRAE 189.1
Enterprise Green Communities

Articles on Green Building
What is Green Building (USGBC)
Benefits of Green Building (USGBC)
Green Buildings Could Save our Cities (National Geographic)