New CALGREEN Building Code to Take Effect January 1, 2011
California has adopted mandatory building regulations for all new construction in the state designed to achieve substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, and water use. The new regulatory code, known as CALGREEN, is the nation’s first statewide green building code and will take effect January 1, 2011. CALGREEN compliance will be inspected and verified by local and state building departments as part of general building code enforcement.
The new code establishes baseline mandatory standards and also creates Tier One and Tier Two voluntary categories for those who wish to position their buildings as even “greener” than the baseline. Among the key requirements:
- 20% mandatory reduction in indoor water use, with voluntary reduction categories up to 40% for commercial projects;separate water meters for nonresidential buildings’ indoor and outdoor water use, with required moisture-sensing irrigation systems for larger landscape projects;
- mandatory salvage/recycling of 50% of construction waste, with voluntary reduction categories up to 80% for commercial projects;
- mandatory inspections of energy systems (HVAC) for nonresidential buildings over 10,000 square feet to ensure maximum efficiency; and
- required use of low pollutant-emitting interior finish products such as paints and carpet.
Where the new code conflicts with the existing requirements of a local code, the more rigorous of the two will apply. Therefore, developers already dealing with the existing green standards adopted by cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco should not find the substantive requirements of CALGREEN too demanding. On the other hand, new paperwork burdens are established. For example, the new code lays out the template for a comprehensive construction waste management plan that must be followed, with an attached worksheet requiring the plans for disposal of at least 19 different types of construction and demolition debris. Each subcontractor involved must also sign a mandatory acknowledgment form.
CALGREEN is being marketed by state government as a transparent, no-cost way for buildings to proclaim their “green” status without incurring the costs required to go through the LEED certification process (estimated at $30,000-50,000 by state officials). No additional fees are required for CALGREEN certification, and any property owner will be able to advertise a building as CALGREEN-compliant once it has passed inspection.
Any owner negotiating an agreement with a design professional for which a building permit will be pulled after January 1, 2011, should make sure to provide that compliance with CALGREEN in the construction documents will be a Basic Service.