January 20, 2010, by
Last week the California Building Standards Commission unanimously approved a new building code “2010 CalGreen” that will take effect January, 2011. 2010 CalGreen is an update to the 2008 California Green Building Standards discussed in an earlier post and differs from the 2008 Green Building Standards Code in that its provisions are stricter and mandatory.
2010 CalGreen has been hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as the most stringent and environmentally friendly state building code. However, a coalition of environmental and green building certification groups are criticizing 2010 CalGreen as a step backward, since its requirements are less strict than LEED standards and building codes already adopted in some California cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Los Angeles Times reported that the some groups take issue with CalGreen because "the tiers cause confusion in the marketplace.” Others are in support of 2010 CalGreen because it was drafted to allow builders to receive green certification without paying for costly third-party green certification. Although the Commission touts the benefits of the 2010 CalGreen over private, point-based systems such as LEED, cities may still require LEED certification in their local green building codes. San Francisco, for one, has no intention of changing its LEED certification requirements, according to the Chronicle.
Regardless, everyone seems to agree that the mandatory basic requirements of 2010 CalGreen are a major step toward a greener California. 2010 CalGreen requires that new construction reduce water consumption by 20%, divert 50% of construction waste from landfills, and install low pollutant-emitting materials such as paints and carpets. The California Air Resources Board estimates that the Code’s mandatory provisions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million metric tons equivalent by 2020. 2010 CalGreen also contains more stringent voluntary provisions for cities to use as a baseline in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The State Building Standards Commission is working to release a draft of 2010 CalGreen in the next few weeks.