As reported by my land use partner, Elizabeth Watson, a LEED accredited professional (click here and here), on January 1, 2011, the long-awaited statewide green building code for new commercial and residential construction in California went into effect. Referred to as the California Green Building Standards Code or CALGreen, the new code sets forth a series of mandatory requirements and voluntary measures for public and privately constructed commercial and residential buildings.
To avoid undue stress, even distress, coming to grips with these new sustainability requirements, consider the following:
1. Local building officials charged with the new standards – and supposedly trained for implementation of CALGreen – will be learning as they go, as will many developers and contractors. Consult early and often with local building officials and inspectors to determine how to meet their requirements.
2. The drafters of CALGreen assumed integration of traditional building code and CALGreen requirements. Concerns will occur over time and overall understanding, on both the public and private sectors’ part, will improve over time. That said, CALGreen should be seen as a set of minimum requirements, with each local jurisdiction free to keep or enact measures more stringent than CALGreen tailored to its desires and needs.
3. For now many local communities which have not fully anticipated how to mesh CALGreen with their locally adopted green building requirements will likely move toward uniformity of green requirements. For example, see Liz Watson’s post on the City of Los Angeles new Green Building Code.
4. If you are used to dealing with LEED standards, remember CALGreen is not a rating system or point-based program; instead it is a statewide mandatory construction code. Compliance with CALGreen does not require outside inspection, review or certification by any entity other than the enforcing agencies.
5. In the end patience is paramount. Persistence and patience in pursuing your green project through the administrative process should payoff in a finished project you can be proud of.