The path to compliance for environmentally sustainable construction comprises a web of standards and regulations (most voluntary) that are often out of sync. That could soon change. Last week, a handful of industry rule-making groups—the AIA, ASHRAE, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, the International Code Council (ICC), and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)—announced plans to bring the shared Standard 189.1 code and the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) into concert in a new ANSI green-building standard to be enforced as a code by the ICC. The group also says it will likely update the LEED rating system’s prerequisites to be covered almost fully by compliance with the new standard.

The goal is to help designers and code officials better differentiate among baseline standards and beyond-code rating systems. “We’re making sure the industry has the right tools for the jobs that they are used for,” says Brendan Owens, the USGBC’s vice president of LEED technical development. “Our hope is that this dramatically streamlines the process by which projects get executed.”

In January 2010, ASHRAE and other industry groups, published Standard 189.1 for high-performance new and existing commercial and high-rise residential buildings. In March 2010, building-industry groups announced the creation of a commercial green-construction code under the ICC that used the International Energy Conservation Code as a baseline, with Standard 189.1 as an alternate compliance path. Still, the code and the standard played in the same space and for largely the same reasons, creating a source of confusion.

“States and jurisdictions who are trying to develop some type of green policies or energy-efficiency policies within their jurisdictions … are not sure what to use,” says Ryan Meres, a senior code compliance specialist at the Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit Institute for Market Transformation.

The new regulatory tool hopes to merge the shared standard and the global code into a single package whose technical content is managed by ASHRAE and is enforced by the ICC, Owens says. He expects it to be up for adoption by the 2017 code cycle, if not sooner. Additionally, he says, LEED could be modified to allow IgCC compliance to satisfy most of the rating system’s prerequisites.

That the IgCC is voluntary in most jurisdictions could impact the traction generated by the forthcoming code. Earlier this year, however, Washington, D.C., amended and adopted a mandatory version of the IgCC for use on most projects larger than 10,000 square feet. “The uptake on [the IgCC] is slow,” Meres says. “It’s coming.”