Whether you agree with it or not California’s new green building code (CALGreen) is looming on the horizon (going into effect January 1, 2011) and developers, architects, planners, engineers, plan checkers, inspectors, building officials and others involved in designing and approving new construction are scrambling to wrap their arms around the new code and what it means to each tier in the development process. This is the nation’s first mandatory state-wide green building code, intended to encourage more sustainable and environmentally friendly building practices, require low pollution emitting substances that can cause harm to the environment, conservation of our natural resources, and promote the use of energy efficient materials and equipment.
The Five CALGreen Code Categories:
- Planning and Design
- Energy Efficiency
- Water Efficiency and Conservation
- Material Conservation and Resource Efficiency
- Environmental Quality
CALGreen Requirements for New Buildings:
- Reduce water consumption by 20 percent.
- Divert 50 percent of construction waste from landfills.
- Install low pollutant-emitting materials.
- Requires separate water meters for nonresidential buildings’ indoor and outdoor water use.
- Requires moisture-sensing irrigation systems for larger landscape projects.
- Requires 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 Code is a comprehensive and uniform regulatory code for all residential, commercial, hospital and school buildings.
- CALGreen will allow cities to impose more stringent standards or provide additional sustainability incentives.
- It has both mandatory components as well as voluntary components that can be adopted by local jurisdictions (Tier 1 and Tier2).
- Mandatory measures include elements currently regulated by other agencies (i.e. stormwater pollution prevention (SWPPP), energy efficiency).
- California Air Resources Board estimates that the mandatory provisions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent) by 3 million metric tons in 2020.
- The CALGreen Code will not require businesses or property owners to pay additional fees for certification.
CALGreen Bottom Line
CALGreen isn’t going to make a huge difference in building practices in California, most of the requirements are relatively inexpensive. Where extra costs may have an effect is in pulling a building permit, the entire building documentation and inspection process will change significantly under the new code and many of the inspections required by CALGreen do not currently exist and will require training and education, an expense most cities cannot afford now days. This may have a huge effect on the residential side of the code. Also, CALGreen represents the beginning of incremental changes to California’s building standards which will continue to become more stringent in the future. The new requirements will also lead to an increase in the retrofit market with owner’s and developers focusing on existing buildings rather than building new ones, a market that is under served in California at the present moment.
Following is a list of relevant resources regarding CALGreen. I will be periodically writing about the code and adding more resources as well as upcoming events and presentation about the code as well as how it relates to existing voluntary green building standards such as LEED and Build it Green.
Vista Futura Inc – CALGreen Consultant.
CALGreen – California Building Standards Commission Homepage for CALGreen
2010 California Green Building Standards Code: Nation’s First Mandatory Statewide Standards Code to Green Construction and Fight Climate Change – This 3-page summary points out unlike point-based certification systems that can be purchased, the CALGREEN Code mandates required field inspections using a public, transparent infrastructure that is stringent, successful, and cost-effective.
Guide to the California Green Building Standards Code – This an educational publication about the new code from the California Building Standards Commission (responsible for the code) First Edition, Issued August 2010
California Building Standards Commission-Housing and Community Development CALGreen Overview July 2010 – A presentation overview of the new code.
USGBC-Orange County Cal Green Presentation – Malcolm Lewis, CTG Energetics ” Where Does LEED Fit with the New California Green Building Code?” – June 24, 2010 – This presentation gives a good overview of the code as well as how it relates to LEED.
California’s Next-Generation Upgrade to Title 24 – An Interview with Dave Walls Executive Director of California’s Building Standards Commission from the U.S. Green Building Council – Discusses CALGreen and how it fits with other green building rating systems.
Dave Walls Interview – Architect of the CALGreen is interviewed by Green Technology Magazine. He addresses concerns, gives the background of the path to adoption for this groundbreaking work and discusses how it will be implemented.
New CALGREEN Building Code – Matindale.com – a lawyer’s overview of the code.
CalGreen: Impact to Your School Projects – San Diego County Office of Education Presentation May 11, 2010. Introduction to CALGreen, History and what it means to school projects.
Myth vs. Fact: Setting the Record Straight On 2010 California Green Building Standards Code – From the California Building Standards Commission.
Greening the Codes – from the U. S. Green Building Council a white paper on how and why mandated green building standards and codes alongside voluntary rating systems such as LEED play an important, distinct and complementary role and together, enabling truly sustainable buildings and communities.
CALGreen and Its Impact on Third Party Certification Programs – Build It Green notes “…there is still much work needed to refine and implement the code [CALGreen] including measure definition, education to affected parties and clear strategies to reconcile and understand how the code relates to the growing number of municipal green building ordinances based on established third-party verified green building programs.”
The Quick Reference For CALGreen v. LEED v. GreenPoint – The commercial matrix compares CALGreen (Commercial) with LEED BD+C. The residential matrix compares CALGreen (residential) with (GreenPoint) Build it Green and LEED for Homes.