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California approves tough new green building code

January 21, 2010


By signing to law a new mandatory Calgreen building code that will ensure new buildings improve energy efficiency, cut waste to landfill and curb water use, California has again underlined its status as a pioneer of green legislation.
Known as Calgreen, the green building code, which was formally adopted late last week, has been in development since 2007 by California’s Building Standards Commission (BSC).  It requires half of all construction waste to be re-used rather than sent to landfills, and dictates that all non-residential buildings over 10,000 square feet are inspected for energy efficiency.
The California Air Resources Board estimates that the mandatory provisions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million metric tons equivalent in 2020.
It will also help address the state’s growing drought risk, by requiring all new buildings to deliver a minimum 20% reduction in indoor water use on current levels, as well as install separate water meters for non-residential buildings’ indoor and outdoor use, and moisture-sensing irrigation systems for larger landscape projects.
Another upside of Calgreen is that building owners passing the code will be able to label their buildings as Calgreen compliant without spending any money on third-party certification programs, said the Governor’s office. In contrast, the US Green Building Council charges for LEED certification.
Calgreen is not the first building code that the Californian BCS has introduced, but the last set of standards that it developed in 2008 were implemented on a voluntary basis, while the new code will be mandatory and will be backed by a formal inspection regime.
“The code will utilise the long-standing, successful enforcement infrastructure that the state has established to enforce its health, safety, fire, energy, and structural building codes making verification of the Green Code for local building inspectors a simple transition,” said the BCS in a statement.
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