From One Building Inspector To The Rest: On Natural Building

This is an except from the book, ‘Going Green, With The International Building Code’ written by Scott Caufield.  He’s a Building Inspector who wrote this book as a guide to using the IRC in a ‘green’ kind of way.

At the end of his book, he wrote this excerpt below.

Please feel free to use this or pass it on to any Building Inspectors who may need a little nudge:

Challenge to Code Officials:

Finally, I want to offer a challenge to my fellow code officials everywhere.  There is no question that certain green construction materials and methods will take us well outside our comfort zones.  I sleep best when, in the course of performing my job duties, the construction world around me is  familiar and conventional, when I am in that comfortable place where everything is in my control and where I totally understand the methods and materials being used, as with conventional construction.  However, green technology, materials, and construction methods are evolving at an extraordinary pace, far faster than the codes can keep up and certainly faster than we can effictively learn about them.  Thus, it is up to us to ensure that we do everything in our power to remove obstacles and encourage innovation in this exciting area.

If alternative means and methods are an area where you have limited experience or if they simply make you uncomfortable because they deal with that nebulous “grey area” that seems to be an ever-present part of the code administration, I encourage you to interact and talk to other code professionals.  In my experience, there is always someone out there who has dealt with a similar situation and is willing to share lessons learned.  Familiarize yourself with the terminology, the materials, and methods currently being used; in short, learn all you can about green building so your knowledge base can keep pase with the rapidly changing industry.

I am in total agreement that no matter how green or sustainable a particular product is, we should never compromise life safety or structural soundness.  However, our challenge is to find ways that not only allow the integration of green methods into the project but also to do so in a way that preserves or enhances life safety and promotes structural soundness.  Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and become part of the solution – a willing and committed partner in the process rather than an obstacle!

Yours in green building,

Scott Caufield, CBO


natural home image taken from 'mother earth news'


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