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State Fire Marshals Exploring Green Buildings/Fire Safety Connection

The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) has received an Assistance to Firefighters Fire Prevention and Safety Grant from the US Department of Homeland Security for a project entitled "Fire Safety and Green Buildings: Bridging the Gap." Its objective is to develop and share information for both code enforcement officials and first responders to address the fire safety gap that currently exists in the interface between established fire safety practices and the new building technologies and criteria being employed in "green" building design.

Deliverables include the formation of a Working Group to advise on the project and develop an agenda for needed educational materials; development of an interactive forum/online clearinghouse for outreach and sharing of information; and guideline publications for use by authorities hav ing jurisdiction and first responders.

Click here to download NASFM's press release on the Green Buildings and Fire Safety website.

A Common Goal for the Built Environment:
Green and Fire Safe!

"Bridging The Gap: Fire Safety and Green Buildings A Fire and Building Safety Guide to Green Construction"

The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) “Green Buildings and Fire Safety – Bridging the Gap” Project aims to bring together emergency responders and code enforcement officials with various aspects of the Green Building community to develop sustainable building strategies that incorporate effective fire safety practices.

NASFM’s website, www.firemarshals.org/programs/greenbuildingsandfiresafetyprojects.htm, is being developed as a central forum for the sharing of information and experiences on these topics. Through our combined efforts, we can help protect people, buildings, the environment, and the planet – a winning combination!

Green buildings have become a mainstay of building design and construction in the United States with the important goal of conserving energy and resources. 

What impact do these new practices, techniques and policies have on fire safety?  Fire officials have some questions, including...

  • How do you permit new green buildings?
  • How do you fight fires in these buildings?
  • What impact do recycled materials have on combustibility?

NASFM reserves the right to decide whether topics and resources suggested by others are posted or linked.

While NASFM may support certain standards, NASFM does not endorse or recommend a specific company’s products or services.


About the Project

In 2008, the Science Advisory Committee (SAC) of the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) identified a gap between established fire safety practices and the rapidly emerging technologies employed in “green” building design and construction. Based on the SAC’s concerns, NASFM assigned a preliminary investigation to a student intern team from Worcester Polytechnic Institute to gather more detailed information. The student team worked in NASFM’s Washington, DC, office for seven weeks at the end of 2008, and provided a broad-based final report and presentation (PDF 1mb), that showed that there is, indeed, a significant safety gap between conventional fire prevention practices, building codes, and fire suppression techniques, and the evolving design and construction innovations introduced in the quest for more sustainable architecture. NASFM used this work to develop a program plan that resulted in a FY2008 grant from the Department of Homeland Security's Fire Prevention and Safety Grants Program to address this fire safety gap.

The program is well under way, with the objective being to develop tools to allow the sharing and dissemination of information on the fire safety of green buildings with fire officials, code authorities, and first responders. While the primary target audience is the fire service (emergency responders and code enforcement officials), every effort is being made to address all stakeholders. NASFM’s concern is that changing building techniques may change the traditional environment not only for first responders, but for code planning and enforcement officials as well. NASFM views its duty as making certain that fire safety is not compromised when building design, construction, and use patterns change to improve the environmental sustainability of architecture. To quote the student interns’ presentation, “Fire Safety Is Green!”. The focus of the program is the development of three primary resources:

  • An interactive online forum/clearinghouse for sharing information on the various aspects of fire safety in green buildings;
  • Guidelines for first responders facing unconventional building configurations; and
  • Guidelines for municipal and local code enforcement officials faced with permitting and inspecting green buildings that may include unconventional features that challenge the permitting process and require the consideration of significantly different designs.

We believe that education and the establishment of mechanisms to facilitate the sharing of information across the country is the most effective way to assure the fire safety of green buildings as the technologies involved are being developed and implemented. A critical early step in the program was establishing an Advisory Working Group (AWG) to help NASFM keep the work technically sound as this project develops. Members of the AWG were invited from a wide range of organizations that represent or have some involvement in the broad area of fire safety of green buildings. The AWG held its first meeting on December 16, 2009, in the International Code Council offices in Washington, DC.

Ongoing, NASFM is building a website-based interactive forum for sharing information as well as for users to share experiences and solicit information from states, municipalities, and other jurisdictions across the country. In addition to internet-based information tools, NASFM is developing guidelines to serve as educational components of training and reference materials for first responders as well as for local code authorities. The thought is that responders or authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) who seek information on the fire safety of green building designs should be able to find out how to approach the topic, what the major issues are, and what is going on in other parts of the country.

While NASFM is looking to the AWG for guidance and advice, we hope that others will help us develop the content of the project by offering suggestions and leads for topics to follow up on, and if possible, serve as a resource to us as we work through this grant.

Firehouse.com ~ Fire Marshal's Corner: Arson Concerns and Green Construction

On Fire Marshal's Corner this month Ed Comeau and Mike Love chat with NASFM President and Georgia State Fire Marshal Alan Shuman and NASFM Project Manager Karen Deppa in a podcast discussion of our new site, "Fire Safety and Green Building - Bridging the Gap."

National Association of State Fire Marshals Statement in Recognition of Earth Day
April 22, 2010

It has been forty years since the first Earth Day, and we have made incredible strides in protecting the planet, but we are also presented with perils that were never envisioned in 1970.  However, by working together and addressing different parts of the problem, we can make the world a better place for future generations.

One part of protecting people and the environment is making sure that we are living, working and playing in safe, yet sustainable, buildings. Fires are a danger that we face every day, and the impact of a fire in a structure affects not only people but also the environment in terms of air pollution, unrecyclable debris, polluted water runoff and tremendous use of resources, including tens of thousands of gallons of water from fire hoses to suppress a fire. When fires are prevented from igniting in the first place – or when automatic fire sprinklers can be used to put out fires while they are small – it becomes clear that fire safety is truly a "green" concept!


Advisory Working Group Members

The National Association of State Fire Marshals is grateful to have a very knowledgeable group of advisors to help guide our efforts and assist us as we carry out this project. We plan to expand the group over time to represent an even broader range of perspectives.

Meeting Minutes and Notes

December 2009

June 2010

National Association of State Fire Marshals

The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) is a 501(c)(6) professional and educational association whose membership comprises the most senior fire officials in the United States and their top deputies. NASFM’s primary mission is to protect human life, property and the environment from fire and related hazards. Its secondary mission is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of State Fire Marshals' operations.

State Fire Marshals' responsibilities vary from state to state, but most State Fire Marshals tend to be responsible for fire safety code adoption and enforcement, fire and arson investigation, fire incident data reporting and analysis, public education and advising Governors and State Legislatures on fire protection. Some State Fire Marshals are responsible for fire fighter training, hazardous materials incident responses, wildland fires and the regulation of natural gas and other pipelines in cooperation with pipeline industry experts such as Dr. Pipes Plumbers.

Most of our members are appointed by Governors or other high-ranking state officials. Some are state police officers. Many are former fire fighters. Some are fire protection engineers, while others are former state legislators, insurance experts and labor union officials.

Fire Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA)
FM Global
General Services Administration
Green Building Initiatives (Green Globes)
International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)
International Code Council (ICC)
International Fire Marshalls Association (IFMA)
Liberty Mutual
Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association
National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards (NCSBCS)
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA)
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC)
Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE)
Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
Vision 20/20






Fire Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA)

The Fire Equipment Manufacturers' Association is an international trade association led by industry experts with decades of fire protection experience, representing the top global brands in commercial fire protection.

Committed to saving lives and protecting property, FEMA’s key initiatives include: Providing top education opportunities and collateral; Advancing best industry standards and practices using the association’s core premise: that safety to life is best served through the implementation of a “balanced fire protection design;” and, Leading advocacy efforts to safeguard the public through lobbying activities and participation in code writing processes.

FEMA is composed of three product category divisions: portable fire extinguishers; fire hose/interior equipment and automated, pre-engineered suppression systems.  Members work in smaller product-specific teams, as well as collectively, to impact industry issues and outcomes.


FM Global

FM Global provides comprehensive global commercial and industrial property insurance, engineering-driven underwriting and risk management solutions, groundbreaking property loss prevention research and prompt, professional claims handling. FM Global’s products and services directly support clients' overall risk management objectives through:

  • Understanding the nature and reality of their specific risks;
  • Establishing sound loss prevention solutions that safeguard against loss;
  • Developing cost-effective insurance and risk transfer solutions backed by large, stable capacity; and,
  • Providing the claims and loss mitigation support to minimize business disruption.

FM Global produces Property Loss Prevention Data Sheets that provide specific guidance on how to prevent or minimize property loss.  The Data Sheet on Green Roof Systems provides guidance in evaluating and constructing vegetative roof coverings.  Affiliate FM Approvals is working on development of Approval Standards for several vegetative roofing products and photovoltaic renewable energy systems.

FM Global has formed an internal Sustainable Technology Task Group to explore ways in which FM Global can further assist clients that are striving to be more environmentally responsible – either by choice or by regulation – while simultaneously maintaining their high standard of property loss prevention.  As a first step, the group is evaluating ways in which clients can reduce the amount of water required to test and maintain fire sprinkler systems, and to reduce carbon emissions from diesel fire pump drivers.    


General Services Administration

GSA provides workplaces by constructing, managing, and preserving government buildings and by leasing and managing commercial real estate. GSA's acquisition solutions offer private sector professional services, equipment, supplies, telecommunications, and information technology to government organizations and the military. GSA policies promote management best practices and efficient government operations.

The landlord for the civilian federal government, GSA's Public Buildings Service (PBS) acquires space on behalf of the federal government through new construction and leasing, and acts as a caretaker for federal properties across the country. PBS owns or leases 8,600 properties, maintains an inventory of more than 354 million square feet of workspace for 1.1 million federal employees, and preserves more than 480 historic properties.

GSA is committed to incorporating principles of sustainable design and energy efficiency into all of its building projects and operations. The result is an optimal balance of cost, environmental, societal and human benefits while meeting the mission and function of the intended facility. It is GSA's intent that sustainable design will be integrated as seamlessly as possible into existing design, construction and operational processes.


Green Building Initiative (Green Globes)

Green Globes is a user-friendly, flexible and cost-effective environmental assessment and rating system that has been in use in the U.S. since early 2005. It is one of the most widely used and recognized green rating tools in the country. Currently there are over 100 buildings in the U.S. that have been certified using Green Globes. Additionally, it has been recognized in legislation, regulation or executive order in 20 states, and in the internal guidelines of four federal agencies. Finally, numerous insurance companies including Liberty Mutual, Aon and the Fireman’s Fund offer insurance products and/or discounts for buildings that achieve an official Green Globes certification.

Green Globes is more than just a sustainability report card. It is an online and interactive process, where the tool acts as an automated green ‘consultant’ offering recommendations for building improvements and supplementary information to help facilitate a learning environment. Furthermore, a Green Globes certification requires undertaking the most rigorous 3rd party assessment process in the U.S. This process includes a document review stage and an on-site visit by a GBI-authorized 3rd party assessor, which is unique to Green Globes.

The Green Building Initiative (GBI)

In the USA, Green Globes is owned and operated by the Green Building Initiative (GBI). The GBI’s mission is to accelerate the adoption of building practices that result in energy-efficient, healthier and environmentally sustainable buildings by promoting credible and practical green building approaches for residential and commercial construction.

In 2005, GBI became the first green building organization to be accredited as a Standards Developing Organization by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and began the process of establishing Green Globes as an official ANSI standard. The GBI ANSI technical committee was formed in early 2006 and includes members from the AIA, ASHRAE, EPA, and the American Lung Association as well as several academicians. The Committee is slated to finish their work in the spring of 2010, at which time Green Globes will become the first, and only, official American National Standard for commercial green building.


International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)


International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)

The International Association of Fire Fighters represents more than 296,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect 85 percent of the nation’s population. More than 3,100 affiliates and their members protect communities in every state in the United States and in Canada.  In addition to city and county fire fighters and emergency medical personnel, the IAFF represents state employees, federal workers and fire and emergency medical workers employed at certain industrial facilities.


International Code Council (ICC)

The International Code Council, a membership association dedicated to building safety, fire prevention and energy efficiency, develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools. Most U.S. cities, counties and states choose the International Codes, building safety codes developed by the International Code Council. The International Codes also serve as the basis for construction of federal properties around the world, and as a reference for many nations outside the United States.

International Green Construction Code

In 2009 the ICC announced its intent to initiate the commercially-focused International Green Construction Code (IGCC) development project and in March 2010 it will unveil the first draft of the IGCC to the public. The goal of the IGCC is to provide stronger, long-term performance of sustainable non-residential, built structures, whether they are new or existing. To achieve peak performance during the life of a building, the IGCC will incorporate critical elements, such as usability, flexibility, adoptability and enforceability. The IGCC is built to be easily integrated with the ICC family of I-Codes and Standards, The IGCC will also provide a new regulatory framework built to complement leading recognized rating systems such as LEED and Green Globes. The IGCC will provide criteria to drive green building and safety into everyday practice.

The code likely will address energy efficiency (including solar and other advanced
technologies), water use efficiency, materials and resource use conservation, indoor
environmental quality and overall building impact on the environment. It will be developed under the Code Council’s governmental consensus process, specifically under the management of the Sustainable Technical Building Committee. The Code Council will seek the collaboration of key partners, including the American Institute of Architects and ASTM International, along with input from its members and stakeholders. This coordinated approach will ensure that code officials, design professionals and other industry experts will have a prominent and appropriate role in the development process.

The initial approach will include the following components:
• The new code will focus on the commercial market.
• Residential issues will be addressed through ICC 700, known as the National
Green Building Standard.


International Fire Marshals Association (IFMA)

The International Fire Marshals Association (IFMA) is a section member of NFPA.

IFMA’s mission is to aid in the preservation of life and property by advocating, promoting, and providing leadership in the prevention or mitigation of fire, explosions, and other related hazardous conditions.

Their goals and objectives are to: Unite for mutual benefit those officials engaged primarily in the prevention of fire, the investigation of fires, and/or public fire and life safety education; Provide educational and professional development opportunities through technological, certification, and prevention programs; Provide a resource service to its members; Actively market and promote a positive, dynamic, and proactive profile; Actively participate in the codes- and standards-making process at the international, national, state, and local levels; Monitor fire safety issues at the international, national, state, and local levels; Develop mechanisms for Chapters to participate in the Association; and, Monitor and support research and development of solutions to fire protection and fire prevention problems.


Liberty Mutual

Mutual Fire Safety Initiatives

Liberty Mutual has a deep and lasting affinity with America’s fire service, and has programs and interactive materials that help families keep their homes and loved ones safe from fires.  Representatives in each of Liberty Mutual’s nearly 400 local offices across the country are equipped with resources to help local fire departments and schools conduct fire-safety outreach and public education.  In addition, Liberty Mutual offers these innovative programs:


There are vast resources for parents to help them prepare their families about fire safety and to prevent home fires from occurring.  The site includes games, instructional videos, interactive fire safety quizzes and a tool to build your own fire escape plan.  The fast and fun kids’ section also features a downloadable coloring book that tells a story about the importance of never hiding from a firefighter during a fire.  The site also offers classroom lesson plans for teachers, and resources for firefighters.

BeFireSmart Safety Pledge

Liberty Mutual launched in 2009 the annual BeFireSmart Safety Pledge Program.  By encouraging local citizens to log on to the website and complete a short fire safety quiz on its behalf, a local fire department could be eligible to win one of ten $10,000 Liberty Mutual grants. 

LibertyMutual Firemark Award

For nearly 25 years, the Liberty Mutual Firemark Award is presented annually to dozens of U.S. firefighters who best represent their communities through courageous valor and who best demonstrate the firefighter’s selfless spirit.  A committee comprised of numerous fire safety organizations, including the National Association of State Fire Marshals, chooses Liberty Mutual National Firemark Award winners from among those who have received local awards from a Liberty Mutual office in their community throughout the year.  Liberty Mutual grants two national awards each year – one for heroism, the other for community service and public education – and provides a $20,000 grant for the winners’ fire departments.

Where’s the Fire?TM Exhibit – INNOVENTIONS at Epcot®

Liberty Mutual’s “Where’s the Fire?” attraction in INNOVENTIONS at Epcot® - the nation’s largest fire safety and education experience – is a 4,000+ square-foot exhibit designed by Walt Disney Imagineering in cooperation with Liberty Mutual’s fire safety specialists and the U.S. Fire Administration.  “Where’s the Fire?” features an interactive game house that challenges guests to find and eliminate common – and uncommon – home fire hazards using a technologically unique “safety light.”  Younger children especially enjoy the smaller-scale “Play It Safe” house where they learn safe behaviors should a fire occur in their home.

The exhibit, which opened in 2004 and has provided fire-safety education to more than 1.2 million Epcot® visitors, also features a “Burning Questions” touch-screen game, a 30-foot interactive pumper truck adorned with the “Badges of Honor” display – Liberty Mutual’s tribute to the fire service.


Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association



National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards (NCSBCS)


National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

The mission of the international nonprofit NFPA is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

NFPA develops, publishes, and disseminates more than 300 consensus codes and standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks.

NFPA membership totals over 75,000 individuals around the world and more than 80 national trade and professional organizations.

The Fire Protection Research Foundation is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to plan, manage and communicate research in support of the NFPA mission. The Foundation developed a five year research agenda based on three strategic areas: our changing demographics as a society; the new materials and technology we are
introducing; and the increasing concern about sustaining our natural resources.

Issues to be addressed include: Assessing the hazards of changing building furnishings, storage contents, and configurations; Developing performance criteria for advanced fire detection and suppression systems; Determining performance issues for advanced firefighting equipment and tactics to ensure that they meet the real needs of first responders; Evaluating the effectiveness of fire and electrical safety systems as they age in place; Developing guidance on the fire and electrical safety infrastructure needed for alternative fuels and energy sources; Analyzing fire safety strategies for the growing aging and disabled population; and, Developing fire protection strategies within the context of environmental considerations.


National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA)

About the National Fire Sprinkler Association

Established in 1905, the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) is the voice of the fire sprinkler industry. NFSA leads the drive to get life-saving and property protecting fire sprinklers into all buildings; provides support and resources for its members – fire sprinkler contractors, manufacturers and suppliers; and educates authorities having jurisdiction on fire protection issues. Headquartered in Patterson, N.Y., NFSA has regional operations offices throughout the country.

About the NFSA Green Committee
In 2008, the NFSA Board of Directors agreed to establish a “Green Committee.” The Committee’s purpose is to promote recognition of the environmental benefits of fire sprinkler systems and to encourage inclusion of credits for fire sprinkler systems in the LEED® program. The committee will work with the United States Green Building Council to build a strong relationship and educate LEED® professionals of the inherent benefits of automatic fire sprinkler systems.


National Instutute of Standards and Technology (NIST)



National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC)

The NVFC is a nonprofit membership association representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS and rescue services. The NVFC serves as the information source regarding legislation, standards and regulatory issues. The NVFC also provides vital resources, programs, and information to the volunteer fire and emergency services.

The mission of the NVFC is to provide a unified voice for volunteer fire/EMS organizations. This is accomplished by: representing the interests of the volunteer Fire/EMS organizations at the U.S. Congress and federal agencies; promoting the interests of the state and local organizations at the national level; promoting and providing education and training for the volunteer fire/EMS organizations; providing representation on national standards setting committees and projects; and, gathering information from and disseminating information to the volunteer fire/EMS organizations.

NVFC Website


Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE)

The Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) is the professional organization that represents engineers engaged in fire protection worldwide. Through its membership of over 5,000 professionals and 65 international chapters, SFPE advances the science and practice of fire protection engineering while maintaining a high ethical standard. SFPE and its members serve to make the world a safer place by reducing the burden of unwanted fire through the application of science and technology.

SFPE supports the development of the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) licensing exam in fire protection. The Society’s activities also include a series of educational seminars, technical symposia, conferences, books and publications designed to advance the state of the science of fire protection engineering and provide technical information to the fire protection community. The Society publishes a peer reviewed quarterly Journal and a quarterly technical magazine Fire Protection Engineering.


Underwriters Laboratories (UL)



U. S. Department of Energy (DOE)

The U. S. Department of Energy advances the frontiers of science and delivers solutions in energy, environment, and national security. Researchers in Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's (PNNL) Energy and Environment Directorate support this mission, working in partnership with academia, other national laboratories, government agencies and industry to address complex national and international energy and environmental challenges.


Vision 20/20

With funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Fire Fighters Fire Prevention and Safety Grant program, the Institution of Fire Engineers US Branch has established a steering committee comprised of noted fire service and related agency leaders to guide a national strategic planning process for the fire loss prevention that results in a national plan that will coordinate activities and fire prevention efforts. Objectives of the Vision 20/20 initiative include:

  • Provide a forum for sustained, collaborative planning to reduce fire loss in the United States;
  • Involve agencies and organizations with expertise and commitment to fire loss reduction in this collaborative effort;
  • Focus on actions that are needed to bridge the gap between recommended solutions and the current status of fire prevention activity;
  • Communicate recommendations and actions clearly with all levels of the fire safety community; and,
  • Build on the success and momentum of existing efforts.



Breaking News

January 3, 2011

NASFM Submits Code Change Proposals to
International Green Construction Code Public Version 2.0


September 10, 2010

National Association of State Fire Marshals
Publishes Introductory Guide to Fire Safety Aspects of Green Construction

First-of-its-kind handbook provides guidance to fire service and building officials on green issues that impact fire safety concerns

WASHINGTON, DC, September 10, 2010 — The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) has just released a fire and building safety guide to green construction called
“Bridging the Gap: Fire Safety and Green Buildings: A Fire and Building Safety Guide to Green Construction.”

This guide identifies some of the key areas where rapidly growing green building construction issues coincide with building and fire safety needs...

August 1, 2010
IAFC On Scene:

Given the demanding financial realities faced by many of our nation’s fire and emergency responders, it would be understandable if money came to mind when “green strategies” were discussed. In fact, the newly charted IAFC Environmental Sustainability Committee is concerned with both environmental and financial sustainability
“This is farm-style sustainability: stretch a buck, adapt to environmental change and explore and adopt new ways of doing business that help pass along opportunity and a healthy home to the next generation,” said IAFC President Chief Jeff Johnson.
The IAFC board of directors has asked the committee to:

  • Educate members on the long-term cost-savings and operational benefits of adopting environmentally sustainable practices
  • Define objectives to address the long-term challenges of climate change on fire and emergency service preparedness, prevention and response, as well as how we can adapt to these new environments
  • Advance solutions that address sustainability of fire and emergency service operations through green initiatives
  • Promote buy-in for sustainability initiatives
  • Align with other IAFC committees on coordinated strategies

“The fire service has always innovated,” said Committee Chair Mike Duyck, deputy fire chief for Tualatin Valley (Ore.) Fire District. “We’re looking for strategies that make the most efficient use of resources, both human and material. Ideally they’re good for the environment and the bottom line over the long haul.”
The Environmental Sustainability Committee will meet at Fire-Rescue International this August and welcomes your participation.
The committee will also host an FRI seminar, When Red Meets Green—Environmental Sustainability in the Fire Service: What your Fellow Chiefs Are Doing Everyday (Friday, August 27, 3 pm). Some of this panel presentation’s topics will include:

  • Lessons learned from green building projects
  • Alternative deployment strategies
  • Run-off capture at fire scenes
  • Fueling options
  • Opportunities for enhancing energy efficiency

In the coming months, the committee will set up a webpage to provide resources, documents and cost matrices; these materials will help departments interested in cost savings through environmentally sustainable practices. Look for educational articles from the committee in future On Scene issues as well.
The IAFC Environmental Sustainability Committee includes chief officers from the following organizations:

  • Lancaster (Tex.) Fire
  • Yarmouth (Mass.) Fire
  • Noblesville (Ind.) Fire
  • Lincoln (Neb.) Fire & Rescue
  • North Richland Hills (Tex.) Fire
  • Tualatin Valley (Ore.) Fire & Rescue
July 19, 2010

UL Awarded Grant to Study Firefighter and Photovoltaic System Safety

(UL Media Article) Continuing its tradition of contributing to firefighter safety and leveraging a long history of experience in electrical safety, Underwriters Laboratories was recently awarded a research grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/FEMA 2009 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program — Fire Prevention and Safety Grants.

The grant funds a project that addresses first responder concerns about fighting fires involving photovoltaic (PV) modules.  This research project will investigate firefighter vulnerability to electrical and casualty hazards when fighting a fire involving PV modules and support systems in residential and commercial buildings. The increasing use of PV systems makes the need for this project: PV use is growing at a rate of 30 percent annually in the US. The use of this new technology has complicated traditional firefighter tactics, leaving firefighters vulnerable to severe hazards. Though the electrical and fire hazards of PV systems are addressed through current product standards and certification, a limited body of knowledge and insufficient data exists for the fire service to develop safe tactics during suppression and ventilation activities.

Evaluating the hazards associated with PV systems in firefighting operations will require the design of experimental methodologies based on UL’s historical and current expertise in product testing and standards development. The experiments will develop empirical data to understand the magnitude of the hazards. Methodologies will be based on electrical principals, fire dynamics and firefighting tactics.

UL will share the results and information gained through the research with the fire service community and PV industry through Web-based educational programs, presentations and articles. The results from the study will serve as the foundation for potential PV installation code revisions and the creation of tactical and operational guidelines resulting in improved firefighter preparedness and safety.

For more information, please contact Bob Backstrom at [email protected] or Steve Kerber at [email protected].

July 8th, 2010
IGCC Hearing Schedule and Registration Published
The hearing schedule and registration for the International Green Construction Code has been published at this link.

As part of its commitment to green and sustainable safety concepts, the Code Council is excited to present a new set of green codes under its initiative entitled “IGCC: Safe and Sustainable by the Book.” This initiative includes the ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1 as a jurisdictional requirement option, and the collaboration of the Council’s closest allies and pre-eminent thought leaders in green building, as well as input from our members and the general public.

July 2, 2010
Report: U.S. Green Building Market Will Balloon to $173.5 Billion by 2015

"Think the trend of businesses making green office renovations is just a passing fad? Not according to the latest issue of EL Insights, which reports that the U.S. green building market value will balloon from $71.1 billion now to $173 billion by 2015. Commercial green building is expected to grow by 18.1% annually during the same time period from $35.6 billion to $81.8 billion..."

June 21, 2010
PG&E's $100 Million Fund Could Help Bring Solar Power to Your House

"Solar panels seem like a great idea in theory, but they're too expensive for homeowners who don't have thousands of dollars to burn.... Now PG&E is giving solar leasing a big push with a $100 million tax equity project financing agreement for over 3,500 SunRun home installations in California, Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. According to PG&E, the $100 million fund is the biggest single solar lease pool ever created...."

June 17, 2010
Fire safety and Green at IAFC FRI - Podcast

Fire safety and the green movement will be covered at the upcoming IAFC Fire Rescue International Conference in Chicago in August (www.iafc.org). Ed Comeau from the IAFC Fire and Life Safety Section recorded a podcast outlining what is going to be covered during this three-hour presentation featuring experts from across the nation.

April 21, 2010
Next-Generation Building Codes Take on Safety and Sustainability

FireHouse.com - Kraig Stevenson & David Nichols, International Code Council

"Energy efficient and renewable technologies on and in commercial buildings are becoming more commonplace as businesses "go green." Due to the upswing in sustainable construction activities, it is important to understand how these technologies are applied within the framework of a sustainable building code, as well as how green building design and construction relates to fire safety. There is a need to ensure integration between regulations that promote sustainable construction and those that promote the safety of building occupants and firefighters."

April 19, 2010
Registration Now Open for the IGCC Public Comment Hearings

As part of its commitment to green and sustainable safety concepts, the International Code Council and Cooperating Sponsors AIA and ASTM International are excited to present the first set of model green construction codes. This initiative includes the ANSI/ASRHAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1 as a jurisdictional compliance option, and the collaboration of the Council’s closest allies and pre-eminent thought leaders in green building, as well as input from our members and the general public.

April 13th, 2010
Environmental Impact of Automatic Fire Sprinklers

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) in partnership with FM Global released the findings of their comprehensive study in a technical report showing that sprinklers reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a fire by 98 percent. (PDF 2mb).

April 6th, 2010
Press Release announcing our project's website



Bridging the Gap: Fire Safety and Green Buildings Guide

A Fire and Safety Building Guide to Green Construction

The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) is proud to announce the release of its fire and building safety guide to green construction called "Bridging the Gap: Fire Safety and Green Buildings." This guide identifies some of the key areas where rapidly growing green building construction issues coincide with building and fire safety needs.

"This guide will give both the fire service and the green construction community a reference point for developing buildings and sites that are not only environmentally sound, but also continue to meet fire safety needs," said NASFM President Alan Shuman. "This will provide a much-needed reference on issues that impact the life safety of building occupants, emergency responders and the larger community."

Included are topical areas such as Site Selection and Use, Building Envelope and Design Attributes, and Building Systems and Alternative Power Sources. A key feature of the guide is a series of checklists focusing on plan reviews for commercial and residential occupancies. This document is meant as an introductory guide for fire chiefs and firefighters, building and fire code enforcement officials, architects and anyone involved in building design, plan reviews and construction.

“By working together, we can all ensure that sustainable buildings not only minimize the impact on the environment, but also provide a high level of fire safety,” added Shuman, who is also the Georgia State Fire Marshal. “After all, there is nothing sustainable about a building that burns down. The impact of a fire upon people, the environment and the community is tremendous and, sometimes, irreversible.”

Click here to download a copy of the guide, which was developed for NASFM by Jim Tidwell of Tidwell Code Consulting, with Jack Murphy, as part of a larger program under a Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety Grant.

PDF for screen viewing (2.5mb)

Download a high-resolution electronic copy suitable for printing or redistribution:

PDF for printing (43MB)



January 3, 2011

NASFM Submits Code Change Proposals to
International Green Construction Code Public Version 2.0

On the recommendation of the NASFM Model Codes Committee, NASFM submitted 8 code change proposals to the International Code Council in January to address issues identified with Public Version 2.0 of the International Green Construction Code (IGCC).  

Three of the proposals deal with the clarification that non-potable water should not be used to supply fire pumps, so as not to introduce health and other biological hazards to firefighters or the public, and not to lead to corrosion of equipment from substances in the water. Three of the proposals are to insert references to the International Fire Code (IFC) for proper safety requirements on fuel storage, solar photovoltaic systems and design of vestibules.  One proposal suggests deleting a section on permitting used materials, product and equipment, since the IGCC language would conflict with provisions that already exist in the IFC. A final proposal would delete the section in the IGCC on strawbale construction, asserting that the provision conflicts with the International Building Code by setting out alternative structural criteria for strawbale construction.

The NASFM proposals are posted here. Code change proposals will be considered at the 2011 IGCC Code Development Hearing in May in Dallas. For more information about the IGCC, visit www.iccsafe.org/cs/IGCC.

The International Code Council is developing the International Green Construction Code.

July 1st, 2010

The comments are posted in a single file as well as by chapter. Under “Complete Document”, there is a separate file entitled “IGCC Public Hearing Introduction” which notes that there will be an introductory session at 7:30 pm on Friday, August 13th for the hearing attendees to discuss the hearing logistics and procedures. Also in that file is hotel information, the hearing schedule, the hearing procedures and the tentative order of discussion. As you can see by the schedule and order of discussion (which identifies comment volume), it will be very busy week during the hearing period of August 14 – 22.

This is the first code that will, if adopted by a community, have specific requirements as to what a building must include in its design and operation to minimize the impact upon the environment.

The first draft of the IGCC is now available for public comment.

Fire Service Public Comments on International Green Construction Code Public Version 1.0

Comments Submitted by the National Association of State Fire Marshals

Comments Submitted by the International Code Council Joint Fire Service Review Committee and the Fire and Life Safety Section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs



External Organizations and Resources

FM Global
FM Global provides comprehensive global commercial and industrial property insurance, engineering-driven underwriting and risk management solutions, groundbreaking property loss prevention research and prompt, professional claims handling. As a mutual company, our products and services directly support our clients' overall risk management objectives through.

Green Building Initiative
The Green Building Initiative (GBI) is a not for profit organization whose mission is to accelerate the adoption of building practices that result in energy-efficient, healthier and environmentally sustainable buildings by promoting credible and practical green building approaches for residential and commercial construction.

International Association of Fire Chiefs
The International Association of Fire Chiefs represents the leadership of over 1.2 million firefighters and emergency responders.  IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders.

International Code Council
The International Code Council (ICC) is a membership association dedicated to building safety and fire prevention. ICC develops the codes and standards used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools.

International Green Construction Code
In 2009, the International Code Council launched the development of a new International Green Construction Code initiative, sub-titled “Safe and Sustainable: By the Book,” committing to developing a model code focused on new and existing commercial buildings addressing green building design and performance. The initial project of drafting of the IGCC Public Version 1.0 was undertaken with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the ASTM International. Ultimately the IGCC Public Version 1.0 added new partners ASHRAE, USGBC and IES with the inclusion of ASHRAE Standard 189.1 as an option for jurisdictional requirements.

IGCC Green Toolkit
"contains resources designed to help ICC members and member jurisdictions understand the background and importance of a green code in today’s building environment."

National Fire Protection Association
The mission of the international nonprofit NFPA, established in 1896, is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

National Fire Sprinkler Association
To protect lives and property from fire through the wide-spread acceptance of the fire sprinkler concept.

National Institute of Building Sciences - Whole Building Design Guide
"The goal of 'Whole Building' Design is to create a successful high-performance building by applying an integrated design and team approach to the project during the planning and programming phases. Explore the WBDG via our new User's Guide."

U.S. Green Building Council
The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a 501 c3 non-profit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

U.S. Department of Energy's Building Energy Codes Program
The U.S. Department of Energy's Building Energy Codes Program is a national resource for building energy codes information, technical assistance, training, and compliance software tools.  Access all of BECP's materials through www.energycodes.gov.  You can also join more than 90,000 Setting the Standard quarterly newsletter readers by becoming a subscriber today.  You may also consider signing up for BECP’s RSS feed to receive weekly updates on BECP’s activities and energy code-related news from around the Web.   Click here to download the BECP publication “Energy Codes 101”.



Fire Safety is Green

One of the key points the National Association of State Fire Marshals and its partners want to convey through this effort is that fire safety – both preventing fires from occurring in the first place and quickly suppressing fires that do ignite – is a very “green” concept. This project intends to help jump-start the cultural shift in thinking that is needed to bridge the two concepts of fire safety and green.

  • Every fire that occurs in a building represents a grave threat not only to the lives of occupants and emergency responders, but also to the environment.

  • Think about the toxic smoke and harmful chemicals released into the air by the fire. Think about the water – not only in the use of huge quantities of water needed to put out the fire when a fire department responds, but the runoff that is carrying all those products of combustion into our fields, streams and water supplies.

  • Think about the accumulated debris and hazardous (as well as non-hazardous) waste from the building itself and its contents that either remains on-site or is hauled into landfills.

Then there are the resources used to re-build the structure, which also adds to the carbon footprint. It soon becomes very clear that every fire that is prevented protects the environment!

Special Feature article - "Safe + Green" -




Green Fire Initiatives

There are a number of areas where the issues of fire safety and the environment coincide.  The content on this site will evolve over time as more information becomes available.

Air Quality

Alternative Fuels

Building Materials

Daylighting (Natural Lighting)

Fire Retardants

Lightweight Building Construction

Solar Power

Sprinkler Systems / Water Conservation

Vegetative Roofs

Wind Power


Air Quality

New materials are being used in construction and in the contents in green buildings. In addition, when a fire occurs, there are significant concerns regarding the production of greenhouse gases, air pollution and the impact on the carbon footprint.

Codes and Permitting

Firefighting & Operations


Alternative Fuels

Alternative fuels are being used in both heating buildings and in cars. These fuels can create issues regarding permitting, storage and suppression that were not being considered previously.

Keeping Iceland Green - Industrial Fire Journal - 4th Qtr. 2009

Fire safety specialist ARK Security commissioned ochiki Europe to deliver the sensing technology forone of Iceland’s most high-profile renewable energy projects in recent years.

Codes and Permitting

Firefighting & Operations


Building Materials

A closer look is being taken at the materials used in constructing a building and the contents and furnishings themselves. This may have a significant impact upon how these materials behave during a fire and their ability to resist fire.

Codes and Permitting

Firefighting & Operations


Daylighting (Natural Lighting)

Daylighting is defined by the Whole Building Design Guide as the controlled admission of natural light into a space through windows to reduce or eliminate electric lighting. Daylighting designs can have a significant impact on the construction of a building's roof, walls and interior space, and thus affect how fires can grow, how fires spread and how fires are fought.

Codes and Permitting

Firefighting & Operations

Green Building Construction and Daylighting: A Chief Officer's Perspective

Oct 1, 2010


"Green building structures, also known as sustainable buildings, are designed, built, renovated, and operated in an ecological manner. They are created to meet certain criteria: to protect occupant health; to improve employee productivity; to use water, energy, and material resources more efficiently; and to reduce the overall impact of building construction on the environment...


Fire Retardants

There are changes happening in the chemicals and processes used to provide fire retardancy in building materials and contents. It is vital to ensure that an effective level of occupant safety is maintained as these changes are implemented.

Codes and Permitting

Firefighting & Operations

International Association of Fire Chiefs asks EPA Administrator to Ensure that Flame Retardants Replacing DecaBDE Minimize Impact on Health and Environment.


Lightweight Building Construction

Lightweight building construction, such as lightweight wood trusses, has long been recognized as hazard for fire fighting operations. In order to reduce the amount of material being used in constructing a building, lightweight construction is being employed more frequently with significant impact upon fire ground operations.

Codes and Permitting

Wilmette Passes Fire Sprinkler Ordinance Due to Concerns With Lightweight Construction

ORLAND PARK, Ill., May 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Officials from Wilmette, Illinois, passed the village's first residential fire sprinkler ordinance requiring fire sprinklers in all new homes that are being built with lightweight construction. With the passage of this ordinance, the Village of Wilmette becomes the 67th jurisdiction in Illinois to pass residential fire sprinkler legislation.

Firefighting & Operations


Solar Power

Codes and Permitting ~ ~ ~ Firefighting Operations ~ ~ ~ Related Links


Codes and Permitting

Oregon Draft Solar Code

Chapter 3 of the Oregon Draft Solar Code addresses the issue of fire fighter access and disconnects.


Firefighting & Operations

UL Awarded Grant to Study Firefighter and Photovoltaic System Safety

(UL Media Article) Continuing its tradition of contributing to firefighter safety and leveraging a long history of experience in electrical safety, Underwriters Laboratories was recently awarded a research grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/FEMA 2009 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program — Fire Prevention and Safety Grants.

The grant funds a project that addresses first responder concerns about fighting fires involving photovoltaic (PV) modules. This research project will investigate firefighter vulnerability to electrical and casualty hazards when fighting a fire involving PV modules and support systems in residential and commercial buildings. The increasing use of PV systems makes the need for this project: PV use is growing at a rate of 30 percent annually in the US. The use of this new technology has complicated traditional firefighter tactics, leaving firefighters vulnerable to severe hazards. Though the electrical and fire hazards of PV systems are addressed through current product standards and certification, a limited body of knowledge and insufficient data exists for the fire service to develop safe tactics during suppression and ventilation activities.

Evaluating the hazards associated with PV systems in firefighting operations will require the design of experimental methodologies based on UL’s historical and current expertise in product testing and standards development. The experiments will develop empirical data to understand the magnitude of the hazards. Methodologies will be based on electrical principals, fire dynamics and firefighting tactics.

UL will share the results and information gained through the research with the fire service community and PV industry through Web-based educational programs, presentations and articles. The results from the study will serve as the foundation for potential PV installation code revisions and the creation of tactical and operational guidelines resulting in improved firefighter preparedness and safety.

For more information, please contact Bob Backstrom at [email protected] or Steve Kerber at [email protected].

NIST and UL co-hosting a Photovoltaic workshop

NIST and UL are co-organizing a Photovoltaic workshop to be held on Sep. 23-24, 2010 on the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, MD. The preliminary agenda includes presentations by experts in PV materials/systems suppliers, end-users, and regulatory agencies, as well as breakout sessions that will enable focused discussion on technical and research needs in PV materials reliability and lifetime. The outcomes and findings of the workshop will guide NIST in developing measurement science and a possible consortium on the life cycle performance of polymeric materials used in PV applications.

Fire Protection Research Foundation, May 2010

Fire Service Workshop on Solar Power Systems
The NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation was awarded a DHS grant to study "Fire Fighter Safety and Emergency Response in Pre-Planning and Fireground Tactics for Alternative Energy Technologies." This report is a summary of a meeting held on March 17, 2010 at eh NextEnergy facility in Detroit, Michigan. According to the report's executive summary, "The workshop goal was to identify, review, and assemble best practice information for tactical and strategic decision making by fire fighters and fire ground incident commanders, to assist in their decision-making process when responding to fire and/or rescue emergency events involving solar power systems."

According to the NFPA, the project is scheduled to be completed by summer 2010 and a report will then be generated.

Fire Fighter Safety and Emergency Response for Solar Power Systems (PDF 3mb)
As the use of alternative energy proliferates, the fire service has identified a number of areas of concern with hazard mitigation and emergency response. This includes solar power systems, which are introducing new and unexpected hazards to fire fighters and other emergency responders. The goal of this report is to assemble and disseminate best practice information for fire fighters and fireground incident commanders to assist in their decision making process for handling fire incidents in buildings equipped with solar power systems or in the systems themselves. Specifically, this study focuses on structural fire fighting in buildings and structures involving solar power systems utilizing solar panels that generate thermal and/or electrical energy, with a particular focus on solar photovoltaic panels used for electric power generation.

Solar Safety for Firefighters: The Myths and the Facts

by Dan Fink - FireRescue1.com September, 30th, 2009

"Not too far back in the past, only wildland firefighters would ever expect to see solar electric panels on roofs and in yards during an incident..."


These videos, created in October 2009, were initially created to address the needs within the San Jose Fire Department's Training Division. There was wide interest in this video from other fire departments, and it has since been sent all over the US, including requests from Australia, and Europe. It provides basic identification, terminology, and tactical considerations.
Captain Matt Paiss, San Jose Fire Department.


Related Links

U. S. Department of Energy

The U. S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technology Program focuses on developing cost-effective solar energy technologies

A discussion of photovoltaics (PV)

Information For Builders and,

PVs connected to the utility grid


National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The primary goal of NREL is to make PV a widely accepted building technology in the 21st century,resulting in solar-powered homes and businesses that demonstrate building-integrated PV and solar technologies in marketable applications and partnerships that build on successes. Click here for a basic discussion of Solar Photovoltaic Technology.

Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) research focuses on one of the fastest growing segments of the solar industry—the integration of photovoltaic (PV) panels into buildings during construction. BIPV replaces traditional building materials such as roofs, window overhangs, and walls. NREL researchers investigate how BIPV systems are integrated into buildings to improve building aesthetics and system reliability while reducing costs and utility transmission losses.


University of Central Florida, Florida Solar Energy Center

Installing Photovoltaic Systems – A Question and Answer Guide


Local Jurisdictions

Goodyear Arizona photovoltaic system plan check worksheet

Lompoc California fire department solar voltaic system review

Alameda California fire department solar voltaic systems standard

Newport Beach California fire department fire safety elements of solar photovoltaic systems


Third party laboratories

Underwriters Laboratories

UL listing status

UL Test Program


FM Global



Sprinkler Systems / Water Conservation

Codes and Permitting

A key component of green building and site design is reducing the use of water.

    • Automatic fire sprinklers are a key factor in helping to reduce the use of water during manual fire fighting operations.
    • There are also considerations in using "gray water" or recycled water for fire suppression activities which raises a number of concerns.

SQ July-August 2010

An article by Dominick Kasmauskas from NFSA on the proposed changes to the International Green Construction Code and NFSA's recommendations.

Environmental Impact of Automatic Fire Sprinklers

FM Global and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition recently did a study where they evaluated the environmental impact of automatic fire sprinklers. This study included doing full-scale burns of two living rooms, one sprinklered and one unsprinklered, and measuring the gases and heat generated and the quantity of water needed for suppression in each scenario. This landmark study quantifies the impact of a fire on the environment and the positive impact that sprinklers have on the environment.


Firefighting & Operations

"Supply Side" - NFPA Journal, November-December 2009

With water supply becoming an increasingly important environmental and economic issue, a new report delivers a timely message: Residential sprinklers can be easily integrated with local water systems.

Water Runoff and Pollution

Water runoff during fire fighting operations may present environmental risks because of potential pollution. Will it be necessary to start collecting the runoff for treatment and testing?


Related Links

NFPA's Blog - "As Green As It Gets"

"As Green as it Gets" highlights the positive impact of fire sprinklers on the environment and cites the FM/HFSC study. Another article titled "The Fire Sprinklers are Coming…" talks about the opposition against the requirement and how counterproductive it is in the fight against fire loss.


Vegetative Roots

Links and Information


“Vegetated roofs, or green roofs have a layer of living plants on top of the structure and the waterproofing elements. There are really two types of green roofs, intensive and extensive.

Intensive green roofs often have a soil depth of a foot or more, and require substantial structural elements to support the weight of the whole roof. Intensive roofs can sustain a wide range of plant species and typically require a fair amount of regular maintenance. Because of the additional demands they impose, intensive roofs are much less common than extensive roofs.

Extensive roofs are much shallower, typically only 2 to 4 inches deep, and are planted with particularly hardy plants. Over the last 50 years or so, this kind of roof has been developed, especially in Europe. But now they are becoming increasingly common in the United States.”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Green Roofs

“Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies Green Roofs”

In section “4.3 Fire Safety: "
Green roofs, when saturated with water, can retard the spread of fire, but dry plants on a green roof can be a fire hazard. The most common ways to increase fire safety are to: • Avoid grasses and plants that could dry up in summer and instead use fire resistant plants, like sedums, and a growing medium that is low in organic material content. • Construct fire breaks on the roof— 2-foot (0.6 m) widths of concrete or gravel at 130-foot (40 m) intervals. Another precaution that some practitioners recommend is to install sprinkler irrigation systems and connect them to a fire alarm.”


“Greenroofs.com is an internet news media organization: the international green roof industry’s resource and online information portal. Our Goal is to inform, promote and inspire the earth friendly technology of organic green roof architecture through the interchange of ideas, projects, news, video, travel, research, organization and government updates, marketing opportunities and exclusive features via our website. We recognize that each reader, project, and perspective is unique. Our Mission is to facilitate information, and as “The Green roof Industry Resource Portal,” Greenroofs.com serves an important role as the information database and clearinghouse for the green roof movement worldwide.

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

“Green Roofs for Healthy Cities’ mission is to increase the awareness of the economic, social, and environmental benefits of green roof infrastructure across North America and rapidly advance the development of the market for green roof products and services.
External Fire Design Standard for Vegetative Roofs (ANSI/SPRI VF-1)

International Green Roof Association

“Fire Prevention - As a part of the "Hard Roof" classification, Intensive Green Roofs provide preventative fire protection in the case of sparks and radiating heat. The criteria that Extensive Green Roofs must meet in order to be considered fire resistant, are already met by most Green Roof systems that are offered by suppliers. Openings within the Green Roof (e.g. skylights) need to be installed with a vegetation free zone (approx. 500 mm or 20 in). On larger roof areas a vegetation free zone (e.g. gravel strip or concrete slabs) are to be installed at least every 40 m.“

“Fire Resistance Green Roof — Roofscapes that are properly maintained are generally considered to be acceptably fire resistant. Consult local code officials. Green Roof — Roofscapes are almost always installed over concrete decks which produces a high degree of interior fire protection. Most Green Roof— Roofscape systems are irrigated with sprinklers, providing additional fire protection. Nonirrigated systems require firebreaks or firebarrier every one hundred feet, in each direction. Additional vegetation-free zones are required at all roof top openings for additional fire safety. Nonirrigated systems should be manually watered in periods of drought to reduce fire risks. High organic content soil is not recommended for fire-safety reasons.”

Capital Regional District, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

“Fire Safety - Sedum and other succulents are naturally fire resistant, almost eliminating fire concerns. There is evidence from European manufacturers which suggests that green roofs can help slow the spread of fire to and from the building through the roof, particularly where the growing medium is saturated. Other types of vegetation could be of concern and may need to be watered, mowed, and/or maintained to prevent fire hazard before they go dormant during the dry season.”

Codes and Permitting

Firefighting & Operations


Wind Power

The use of wind turbines is growing in both the urban and rural communities. Roof-top turbines can be found in cities on top of buildings, at airports, on mountaintops as well as open spaces such as farms.

Codes and Permitting

Firefighting & Operations



Integrated Design Process and the Fire Service

The building design community's movement towards sustainable or environmentally friendly building designs can result in unique fire protection and life safety challenges, especially in relation to traditional building code compliance.

National Institute of Building Sciences - Whole Building Design Guide

"The goal of 'Whole Building' Design is to create a successful high-performance building by applying an integrated design and team approach to the project during the planning and programming phases. Explore the WBDG via our new User's Guide."


Featured Articles and News

Facilities Net - Loren Snyder, December 2010

Green Building Design Can Pose Fire Safety Challenges

"If asked which organizations might be responsible for calling attention to fire- and life-safety concerns, most facility managers might think of the National Fire Protection Association or the International Code Council. Few, even when pressed, would answer by naming retailing giant Target. But it seems that's just what's happening..."

Green Design Solutions and Materials May Be Fire Hazards

"Green designs also are increasingly introducing unconventional solutions to traditional building problems...."

Environmental Building News
Making Green Buildings Safe for Firefighters

"Green buildings may present special challenges for firefighters because of new technologies, building materials, and building techniques. That’s the concern Fire Safety and Green Buildings—Bridging the Gap, a new website at https://www.firemarshals.org/programs/greenbuildingsandfiresafetyprojects.html developed by the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM); a handbook on the topic has also been released..."

Do LEED-Certified Green Buildings Protect Human Health?

As the movement accelerates to build more green buildings, it is important to make sure other issues, such as the health and safety of the occupants, is not something that falls to the wayside.  This is outlined in this article, but it is also important to keep in mind issues such as the impact on fire safety from using different or recycled materials with potentially unknown combustibility characteristics. What type of off-gassing occurs during normal use?  What about when it burns - how fast will it burn and what type of toxicity makeup is the smoke?  It is important to make sure that these safety issues, and so much more, are still kept in mind.

Solar fire raises questions about panel safety.
Building codes leave firefighters unable to fully kill power
- by Eric Wolff, North County Times

Green Construction and Fire Protection by Dominick G. Kasmauskas, CFPS

NFSA Green Committee and LEED® - The NFSA moves forward to bring Green tools to its members!

By Dominick G. Kasmauskas CFPS,
NFSA NY Regional Manager and NFSA Green Committee Secretary

"It's Not Easy Being Green" - NFPA Journal November/December 2009

A young fire protection engineer is divided by her passion for the environment and her commitment to fire safety.

"Where The Green Things Are" - NFPA Journal November/December 2009

Home to gardens, photovoltaic arrays, wind turbines, and more, rooftops increasingly host some of the most popular innovations of the green movement. And that’s what concerns the fire service and the code community.

How a Hybrid Is Like Fire Safety - Campus Firewatch

There are some distinct parallels between raising awareness of fire safety and the concern over the environment. There are some lessons we can learn about how the environmentalists managed to create such awareness.

April 6th 2010 Press Release Announcing our project's website.



Rating Systems

There are a number of green rating systems in use in communities across the nation.  One of the more widely known one is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) that is under the U.S. Green Building Council.

Another one used in the United States  is the Green Globe rating system.

Information on the different rating systems used around the world can be found here.



State Activities







As of December 2008, the US Green Building Council lists California as the number one state for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) projects, with 2,788. Through the Green Building Initiative, California is improving the energy and environmental performance of existing and new state-owned buildings. Executive Order S-20-04 calls for reducing electricity consumption in state buildings 20 percent by 2015. Reaching that goal will include a combination of benchmarking the energy efficiency of state buildings, and retro-commissioning and retrofitting facilities to ensure that energy systems are operated as efficiently as possible. The state is pursuing LEED-New Construction certification for its major construction and renovation projects. In addition, the state is seeking LEED-Existing Building certifications for existing facilities in order to ensure energy efficient building operations and maintenance practices. California is also encouraging and enabling schools built with state funds to be resource and energy efficient.

The 2008 California Green Building Standards Code (effective August 1, 2009)

The State of California Department of Justice has prepared a document that identifies the various approaches to green building ordinances that jurisdictions have taken and the most common features of the measures. 

California State Fire Marshal's Solar Photovoltaic Installation Guideline - PDF (2MB)




Green Building Initiative

As of December 2008, the US Green Building Council lists Texas as the number two state for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) projects, with 2007.

Texas State Fire Marshal

Since 1997 the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) has been part of the Texas Department of Insurance as directed by SB 371, 75th Legislature. In addition to the staff located at the SFMO headquarters in Austin, SFMO employees are strategically located across the state to respond quickly to requests. The mission of the SFMO is to reduce loss of life and property due to fire and related hazards. Through the efforts of four divisions, Prevention and Outreach, Fire Safety Inspections, Licensing and Enforcement, and Fire Investigations, and in collaboration with private sector entities, the regulated fire service industry, the Texas fire service, local and state agencies, and the public, the SFMO seeks to create communities well prepared to protect themselves against fire. The SFMO believes that prevention is the most effective means of fire protection. The office incorporates the principles of Engineering, Enforcement and Education into innovative fire protection. Fire personnel working in the areas of Engineering learn why fires are occurring and distill their findings into accurate, relevant fire protection information. Enforcement reinforces Engineering by ensuring that the public adheres to fire safety codes and statutes. Through Education, the SFMO designs and delivers vital fire prevention services and information to the audiences and communities most in need of it. The SFMO understands that fire is largely preventable. Through fire and life safety engineering, enforcement and education, the SFMO strives to create safer communities and reduce the impact of fire.

Texas State Energy Conservation Office

The Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO), partners with Texas consumers, businesses, educators and local governments to reduce energy costs and maximize efficiency. The SECO sustainable building design initiative and its sustainable school design initiative encourage and support schools, state agencies, architects and contractors to design and construct sustainable buildings that consume less fossil fuel, limit environmental impacts and improve worker health and productivity.

Partial List of City Activities

The City of Austin has green building provisions within the city building code. The requirements vary according to location, zoning designation, and building type (current as of 3-17-2010).

The Dallas City Council adopted a green construction ordinance to reduce energy and water consumption in all new houses and commercial buildings constructed in the city .

The city of Frisco administers a green building program with separate rules for commercial and residential structures.

The Houston City Council adopted the Green Building Resolution, which set a target of Silver level LEED certification for new construction, replacement facilities and major renovations of city of Houston-owned buildings and facilities with more than 10,000 square feet of occupied space. The General Services Department is implementing this policy in its management of projects in the City's Capital Improvement Plan. The city of Houston’s Code Enforcement staff has a green buildings resource center where plans are reviewed for opportunities to add green strategies.

San Antonio has adopted the International Energy Conservation Code, with local amendments, effective January 1, 2010 (Code of Ordinances, Article XV; ).







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