California to Mandate Statewide Green Building Codes

Words: Bronzella Cleveland

California to Mandate Statewide Green Building Codes

The California Building Standards Commission has adopted the nation's first mandatory standards and codes for green building in residential, commercial and public construction projects. The standards, known as the California Green Building Standards Code, or CALGreen, go into effect on Jan. 1, 2011. It is the intent of the Commission to reduce construction waste and water consumption, and to improve indoor air quality in all of California's buildings.

“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,” said California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in a released statement. “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.

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