Continuing California's efforts to fight climate change and protect the environment, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently announced the California Building Standards Commission (BSC) unanimously adopted the first-in-the-nation mandatory Green Building Standards Code (CALGREEN) requiring all new buildings in the state to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible. Taking effect Jan. 1, 2011, these comprehensive regulations will achieve major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, and water use to create a greener California.
"With this first-in-the nation mandatory green building standards code, California continues to pave the way in energy efficiency and environmental protection," says Gov. Schwarzenegger. "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. The code will help us meet our goals of curbing global warming and achieving 33% 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%, divert 50% of construction waste from landfills, and install low pollutant-emitting materials. It also requires separate water meters for non-residential 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 non-residential buildings over 10,000 sq ft 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.
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.