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Local and Municipal Law Research: Local and Model Ordinances

This research guide contains resources to accompany Professor Dernbach's Sustainability Law and Practice Course.

Model Codes and Standards Resources

Form Based Codes Institute

Form-based codes address the relationship between building facades and the public realm, the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and types of streets and blocks. The regulations and standards in form-based codes are presented in both words and clearly drawn diagrams and other visuals. They are keyed to a regulating plan that designates the appropriate form and scale (and therefore, character) of development, rather than only distinctions in land-use types.


International Green Construction Code

The IGCC is the first model code to include sustainability measures for the entire construction project and its site — from design through construction, certificate of occupancy and beyond. The new code is expected to make buildings more efficient, reduce waste, and have a positive impact on health, safety and community welfare.

ICMA: Association of professional city and county managers and other employees who serve local governments.

ICMA offers this page of compiled model codes and ordinances from around the country. It provides links to tools, research, codes, and ordinances categorized by municipal operations, utilities, transportation and land use, and environmental and natural resource management.

National Institute of Building Sciences

Green Building Standards and Certification Systems

Pennsylvania eLibrary

The eLibrary is a cooperative project of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP).

Links to land use documents by Pennsylvania counties.

Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

The Model Municipal Ordinance project aims to create best practices for municipal ordinances.  The Sabin Center has drafted model ordinances for green buildings, commercial wind, and residential solar.

Sustainable Development Code: The Sustainable Development Code offers best practices for community development.  Through a rigorous editorial and interdisciplinary research process with law schools and practitioners from across the country in several disciplines, the SDC provides concrete ways for communities to amend development codes and adapt to changes as they occur.

PA Municipalities & Ordinances

Pennsylvania Municipal Ordinances

There are approximately 2, 562 municipalities in Pennsylvania.  Below are links to electronic versions of municipal codes for some of them.   Some municipalities make their codes available on their municipal website, others through a third party source.  Not all of Pennsylvania's municipalities post their ordinances on the internet.  When using an electronic version of the code be sure that you are viewing a reliable source. It is recommended that you check with the Municipality to be sure that the electronic version is current or accurate.  For many townships the electronic version is not considered "official" and it may be necessary to go to the township or municipality for verification. 

Harrisburg, City (General Code)

Philadelphia Code of Ordinances (American Legal Publishing)

Pittsburgh Code of Ordinances (Municode)

Susquehanna Township


Other Pennsylvania ordinances from:

LEXIS Advance: Municipal Codes


Ordinance Drafting Tips

Tips on Drafting Ordinances and Bylaws from the Masschusetts Municipal Lawyers Association

 How to Write a Zoning Ordinance from APA National Conference 2011

 Drafting Effective Ordinances  from International Municipal Lawyers Association