California Adopts Mandatory Green Building Codes


Last week, California adopted the U.S.’s first mandatory green building codes called Calgreen, which are expected to help the state reach its goal of cutting CO2 emissions by a third by 2020. According to The New York Times’ Green Inc. blog, every new building will have to “reduce water usage by 20 percent and recycle 50 percent of its construction waste instead of sending it to landfills. Commercial buildings will be required to have separate water meters for indoor and outdoor water use. Mandatory inspections of air conditioner, heat and mechanical equipment will be also be instituted for all commercial buildings over 10,000 square feet.”

Tom Sheehy, acting secretary of the state Consumer Services Agency and chair of the California Building Standards Commission, the group that passed the rules, told The San Francisco Chronicle: “This is (something) no other state in the country has done – integrating green construction practices into the very fabric of the construction code. These are simple, cost-effective green practices. California should be proud.”

The California Building Standards Commission unanimously approved the new rules, which also allow cities with stricter codes to keep their independent standards.

Importantly, to offset the cost of meeting the new code, developers will not be required to get green building certification from the U.S. Green Building Council or other organizations. Still, the new codes are expected to increase the cost of building homes. As a result, new home prices are expected to rise by $1,500. 

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Northern California chapter told The San Francisco Chronicle its group was “concerned that parts of the new code lack the rigor of existing local regulations, possibly making it difficult for cities and counties to adopt more stringent standards.” However, state officials said it was necessary to create a “single comprehensive code, clearing up confusion over varying regulations, and it allows builders to receive green certification without paying a third party.”

California’s Building Standards commission passsed similar rules in 2008, but now that they are mandatory, it’s expected they will remove three million metric tons of emissions from the air by 2020.

Read the article

Image credit: California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA. SWA Group, Sausalito, CA

2 thoughts on “California Adopts Mandatory Green Building Codes

  1. Michael Kavanagh 01/29/2010 / 12:31 pm

    Anyone want to acknowledge the elephant in the corner….THE STATE DEBT!. This is great legislation, but if the state has no money to enforce it, on any level (at the site, or at the conference table) its all just feel good.

  2. Steve Sacks 02/05/2010 / 2:23 pm

    I’m not sure I see your point about the state debt. We already budget for building code oversight. How is this going to drastically increase the budget needs for enforcement? The cost for efficiency testing falls on the building owners.

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