California adopts mandatory green building code

Chris Rizo Jan. 13, 2010, 5:42am

Arnold Schwarzenegger (R)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California will have some of the greenest buildings in the nation under a set of environmentally friendly, business-backed building code standards adopted this week by a state commission.

Dubbed Calgreen, the new building code adopted Tuesday will require that builders divert half of construction waste from landfills to recycling, install plumbing that cuts indoor water use by at least 20 percent and use low-polluting paints and floor coverings.

The revised building code will also require separate indoor and outdoor water meters for non-residential buildings and mandatory energy inspections for buildings over 10,000 square feet.

Supported by the California Chamber of Commerce and adopted by the California Building Standards Commission, the new eco-friendly building code allows local governments, such as cities, to adopt more stringent versions of the green building code if local officials so choose.

The new baseline regulations that go into effect next year allow builders to receive official green certification without paying a third party.

Environmental groups including the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, criticized the code when it was proposed, saying the regulations don't go far enough.

In July 2008, the commission approved similar, voluntary building standards, after Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed Assembly Bill 1058 in 2007 that would have instituted a green building code for the state.

In his veto message, the governor opined, among other things, that building standards should not be statutory, saying the Building Standards Commission, not the state Legislature, should draft the regulations.

On Tuesday, he praised the new regulations, saying the new rules will help the Golden State reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve 33 percent renewable energy by 2020.

"With this first-in-the nation mandatory green building standards code, California continues to pave the way in energy efficiency and environmental protection," Schwarzenegger said. "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."

The California Air Resources Board estimates that Calgreen provisions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million metric tons by 2020.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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