Five building industry groups have agreed to collaborate on the development of green building codes, standards and rating systems.

Officials say the proliferation of different green building tools has caused unnecessary fragmentation and some confusion in the industry. To address that problem, the groups have agreed to consolidate some of the myriad tools into one document.

The organizations that signed the agreement are ASHRAE, the International Code Council (ICC), the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES), the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The agreement outlines the development, maintenance and implementation of new versions of ANSI/ASHRAE/IES/USGBC Standard 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, and the IgCC, which will be combined into one regulatory tool. This agreement also seeks to align the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system with the new code to ensure a streamlined, effective set of regulatory and above-code options for jurisdictions across the country.

Although the groups plan to consolidate their efforts, they will continue to work on the release of standards already under development. ASHRAE is set to release its updated version of the green building standard this fall, and the ICC is expected to continue revisions on its green building code, with a planned release some time in 2015. But by 2017, the groups hope to have developed a consolidated tool.

"It's very exciting that the industry is coming together to recognize the importance of a standardized set of [tools] to guide the green building industry," Tom Phoenix, president of ASHRAE. He notes that other groups may later join in the effort. "There is no attempt to exclude anybody," he says.