California’s Green Building Standards Code Unanimously Adopted
The California Building Standards Commission (BSC) unanimously has adopted the mandatory Green Building Standards Code (CALGREEN). California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the adoption on January 12. The code, which is the first in the nation mandatory code, requires all new buildings in the state to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible. Taking effect on January 1, 2011, the comprehensive regulations will achieve major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and water use.
“With this first-in-the nation mandatory green building standards code, California continues to pave the way in energy efficiency and environmental protection. Today’s action lays the foundation for the move to greener buildings constructed with environmentally advanced building practices that decrease waste, reduce energy use and conserve resources,” says Schwarzenegger. “The code will help us meet our goals of curbing global warming and achieving 33 percent renewable energy by 2020 and promotes the development of more sustainable communities by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency in every new home, office building or public structure.”
CALGREEN will require that every new building constructed in California reduce water consumption by 20 percent, divert 50 percent of construction waste from landfills and install low pollutant-emitting materials. It also requires separate water meters for nonresidential buildings’ indoor and outdoor water use, with a requirement for moisture-sensing irrigation systems for larger landscape projects and mandatory inspections of energy systems (e.g., heat furnace, air conditioner and mechanical equipment) for nonresidential buildings over 10,000 square feet to ensure that all are working at their maximum capacity and according to their design efficiencies. The California Air Resources Board estimates that the mandatory provisions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent) by 3 million metric tons equivalent in 2020.
Upon passing state building inspection, California’s property owners will have the ability to label their facilities as CALGREEN compliant without using additional costly third-party certification programs.
In 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger directed the BSC to work with specified state agencies on the adoption of green building standards for residential, commercial and public building construction for the 2010 code adoption process.
The mandatory code provisions will now become the baseline of regulated green construction practices in the country’s most populous state. The BSC, which developed this initial Green Building Standards Code with extensive discussions with environmentalists, architects, builders, local officials and others, will continue to improve this new code with those interested parties.
In addition to the mandatory regulations, CALGREEN also includes more stringent voluntary provisions to encourage local communities to take further action to green their buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and conserve our natural resources.
Like California’s existing building code provisions that regulate all construction projects throughout the state, the mandatory CALGREEN provisions will be inspected and verified by local and state building departments. CALGREEN will use the long-standing, successful enforcement infrastructure that the state has established to enforce its health, safety, fire, energy and structural building codes. Many of the mandatory provisions in the code are already part of the statewide building code, making verification of CALGREEN an easy transition for local building inspectors.