Articles on Green Building

 

CEQA EXCEPTION FOR BIKE LANES NEARING THE FINISH LINE

Green Building

While most attempts to push-through last-minute CEQA reform were parked until next year, one bill, AB 2245, glided through the legislature and now heads to the finish line on Governor Brown’s desk for signature.  The bill, which provides streamlined environmental review for certain bike lane projects, was unanimously passed by the State Assembly on August 24th after receiving only one dissenting vote in the Senate.

AB 2245 exempts from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) bike lane projects in urbanized areas that require repainting of streets and highways, as opposed to widening, when the restriping is consistent with a prepared bicycle transportation plan.  CEQA is the state’s landmark environmental law that requires a public agency to identify significant environmental impacts of projects it proposes to carry out or approve.  CEQA’s procedural and substantive requirements aim to prevent damage to the environment and encourage informed-decision-making.  Recently, the law has come under increasing fire for its potential to be misused for non-environmental purposes.  The law frequently results in extended project delays, and when the project being delayed is considered “green” or one that will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, the law can seem counterproductive.

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Green Building Coming to a Home Near You

Green Building

Yesterday, the California Energy Commission unanimously approved energy efficiency standards for new homes and commercial buildings. The new 2013 Building and Energy Efficiency Standards (Standards), which take effect on January 1, 2014, are projected to be 25 percent more efficient than previous standards for residential construction and 30 percent more efficient for nonresidential construction.

For new residential construction, the Standards include:

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City Adopts Progressive General Plan Addressing Link Between the Built Environment and Public Health

Green Building

Recently, the City of Richmond, a bay area industrial and commercial hub, approved an innovative General Plan that includes a comprehensive element dedicated to community health and wellness.  The city’s General Plan, which will guide development in the city through the year 2030, is one of the first in the nation to recognize that where people live, work and play has a fundamental effect on their health.  Development of this unique General Plan element was made possible by a $225,000 grant from The California Endowment and took place over an 18-month planning process, which coincided with the City’s overall general plan update process.

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CERTIFYING THE CERTIFIERS: GSA ONE STEP CLOSER TO CHOOSING A FEDERAL GREEN BUILDING PROGRAM

Green Building

Last week, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) came one step closer to identifying a federally recognized green building certification system. The review, conducted by the Department of Energy (DOE) and commissioned by the GSA, narrowed down the list of candidates to three: the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes and the International Living Building Institute’s Living Building Challenge.

By way of background, LEED has been the federal standard since 2006 and is certainly the most well-known of the programs, with 10,000 buildings having been awarded certification and over 150,000 professionals involved in the program. However, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) requires the GSA to make an evaluation every five years and identify a system that it “deems to be most likely to encourage a comprehensive and environmentally sound approach to certification of green buildings.” The EISA requires that sustainable design principles be applied to federal design and construction projects for new buildings and major renovations.

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Does Your City Make the Energy Star Cut?

Green Building

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released today the annual list of metropolitan cities with the most Energy Star certified buildings for 2011.  To earn EPA’s Energy Star, commercial buildings must perform in the top 25 percent of similar buildings nationwide and must be independently verified by a licensed professional engineer or a registered architect. 

EPA first released the list in 2008.  For the third year in a row, Los Angeles topped the annual list.  Washington D.C. and Atlanta rounded out the top three.  California had the most cities in the top 25, with six cities – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego and San Jose. 

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Green Building in Practice: A Success Story

Green Building

Greenberg Glusker client, Structure Home, in partnership with Green Builder Media and others, is well underway in its development of VISION House Los Angeles.  Among the first of its kind in the Los Angeles area, this single family residence is located in the Pacific Palisades community of Los Angeles.  The goal of this project is to raise awareness, educate and advocate green building within our community.  This project will be featured in an upcoming edition of Green Builder Magazine.

Not only will this project comply with the mandatory requirements of California Green Building Standards Code (as known as CALGreen), which went into effect as of January 1, 2011, this project will also comply with the Tier 1 discretionary measures and is also on track to accomplish LEED Certification, California ENERGY STAR Certification, and California Home Energy Efficiency Rating System (CHEERS) Verification, among other certifications and verifications.  For all of the talk in recent memory about the need to go “green” and preserve our natural resources from local citizens all the way to President Obama, Structure Home is actually making it happen.

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Building Energy Benchmarking: Are We There Yet?

Green Building

LAOfficeBuildingIn a classic case of “the devil’s in the details,” Assembly Bill 1103 (“AB 1103”), which mandated the disclosure of energy-usage data of commercial buildings in certain transactions, has yet to be implemented nearly four years after it was first enacted. The legislation set a deadline of January 1, 2010 for building owners selling, leasing or financing an entire non-residential building to deliver energy consumption information utilizing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager program (EPA Portfolio Manager). (A more comprehensive description of AB 1103 is provided here.) The 2010 deadline was extended indefinitely in 2009 by Assembly Bill 531 to allow the California Energy Commission (CEC) to complete the rule-making process for the adoption of implementing regulations.

So the unanswered question is: When will AB 1103 finally take effect? The answer, for the moment, is that implementation is at least nearly a year away. The earliest possible kick-off date is July 1st of next year. In order to make this schedule, the revised draft regulations issued for public comment in August (Revised Draft Regulations) would need to complete the public comment process followed by adoption of the final regulations by the CEC by late spring 2012.

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The GREENing of Greenberg Glusker

Green Building

BuildingIn honor of Earth Day, we thought we’d share some of the steps that Greenberg Glusker has taken to be more green.

Last year, Greenberg Glusker completed its office remodel in true green fashion. We recycled and reused materials from the old office design whenever possible, which resulted in using recycled or reused materials for nearly 95 percent of the remodel. We also used bamboo, one of the approved sustainable materials in green design, throughout the new office. We used recycled materials for the carpeting and the modular furniture, and used sustainable products for some of the fabrics used in the furniture and wall covering. To conserve energy, we installed motion sensors in all of the office spaces so that the lights turn off when the rooms are not occupied. Appliances in the kitchens and lounge areas are 5 Star rated for energy efficiency. Finally, to conserve water we installed low-flush toilets.
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Arizona Tribe First to Adopt International Green Building Code

Green Building

DesertAs our regular readers know, we have been closely following California’s efforts toward mandating green building requirements both state-wide (through CalGreen) and locally.

In a sure sign that green building is here to stay, the Kayenta Township, a political subdivision of the Navajo Nation located in Arizona, recently became the first tribal community in the United States to adopt the International Green Construction Code (IGCC).
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Five Ways to Avoid Seeing RED over CALGreen’s Requirements

Green Building

Commercial Building ConstructionAs 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:
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