California passes green building standards code
On Tuesday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that the California Building Standards Commission (BSC) unanimously adopted the first-in-the-nation mandatory Green Building Standards Code (CALGREEN), which will require all new buildings in the state to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible. Taking effect on Jan. 1, 2011, the new regulations aim to achieve major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and water use throughout the state.
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. Nonresidential buildings over 10,000 square feet will be subject to mandatory inspections of energy systems — such as heat furnace, air conditioner and mechanical equipment — to ensure that all are working at their maximum capacity and according to their design efficiencies.
BSC approved a green building code in 2008 that included the same standards, but on a voluntary basis. The new code makes the standards mandatory.
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. “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 Schwarzenegger in a 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.”
In addition to the mandatory regulations, CALGREEN also includes more stringent voluntary provisions to encourage local communities to take further action to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve natural resources. CALGREEN provisions will be inspected and verified by local and state building departments and will use the 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.
Read more about CALGREEN.