California Announces First-in-the-Nation Statewide Green Building Standards Code

January 15, 2010

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced on January 12 that the California Building Standards Commission unanimously adopted the first-in-the-nation mandatory Green Building Standards Code (CALGREEN). The program, which takes effect on January 1, 2011, will require all new buildings in the state to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible. The governor said the 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. He added that the code will help California achieve 33% renewable energy by 2020.

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 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 (such as 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 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 third-party certification programs. See the governor's press release and the CALGREEN fact sheet (PDF 34 KB). Download Adobe Reader.