Calif. Introduces Mandatory Green Building Code

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is the first state to introduce mandatory green building standards after a new policy was created to achieve a statewide goal of 33 percent renewable energy use by 2020 and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, and water use.

The building codes, which take effect Jan. 1, 2011, require all buildings to reduce water consumption by 20 percent compared to conventional structures. In addition, nonresidential buildings constructed in 2011 will need separate water meters for indoor and outdoor use, with a requirement for moisture-sensing irrigation systems for larger landscape projects and mandatory inspections of energy systems for nonresidential buildings over 10,000 square feet.

Upon passing a state building inspection, facilities can be labeled by their owners as Calgreen compliant.

Calgreen incorporates all code provisions related to health, safety, fire, energy and structural building requirements already in place, allowing state and local inspectors to easily transition to the new system. 

The California Building Standards Commission and other California agencies have been collaborating since 2007 to develop green building standards for residential, commercial and public building construction. The agencies have worked closely with environmentalists, architects, builders, local officials and others to create the new standards.

“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. Arnold 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.”

California has a voluntary green building code that has been in effect since 2009. To date, more than 40 cities statewide have adopted green building ordinances.