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Green Building News

Gearing Up for California’s New Green Building Code

The CalGreen code becomes mandatory on January 1, 2011

Image Credit: California Building Standards Commission

California’s Green Building Standards Code – also known as CalGreen – will soon segue from voluntary to mandatory, a prospect that has CalGreen training programs operating at full tilt.

Billed as the nation’s first green building code (at least the first applied on a statewide scale), CalGreen is Part 11 of the California Energy Code, or Title 24, of the California Code of Regulations. The code, which has been voluntary since its publication in 2008, becomes mandatory on January 1, 2011. It was produced with the support of the California Green Builder and Green Building Initiative/Global Green programs and applies to both commercial and residential new construction with the aim of improving their performance, making their interior environments healthier, and making the construction process more eco-friendly.

Dave Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC), which guides the state’s triennial code revisions, said in an interview with the nonprofit sustainability specialist Green Technologies that CalGreen is designed to reduce the environmental impact of buildings through a number of measures, including reduction of construction waste, water usage, use of volatile organic compounds in building materials, and energy usage.

Where it started

Walls noted that the impetus for CalGreen came from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 and an executive order, S20-04, calling for the greening of state buildings. The expectation at the time, Walls said, was that the CBSC and others in the industry collaborating on the code’s development would be able to pick from existing green programs – such as the U.S. Green Building Council, Build It Green, Green Globes, and so on – as well as green code implemented by other states. But that strategy led to a startling discovery.

“What we couldn’t find was another green code out there, which really surprised me,” Walls told Green Technology. “I’m thinking we’re behind the eight ball and we’re going to have to play catch-up, but it wasn’t that way. There were a lot of guidelines out there such as (USGBC’s) LEED, Green Globes, Build It Green, Global Green … part of the governor’s direction was to not reinvent the wheel. He told us to take a look at these programs, glean from them what you can, and then create a code. That’s really what we did.”

Green Technology, in collaboration with the CBSC, has been co-presenting CalGreen training seminars at several locations throughout the state. From September through March 30, 2011, for example, 18 seminars are open to prospective registrants, with registration fees set at $65 for public-sector participants (including government, educational, and nonprofit organizations) and $95 for private-sector participants. Click here for more information.

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