CalGreen Building Code: What is it?
As local agencies get more in tune with the code cycles, you may be hearing more and more about “CalGreen”, and wondering what it means for you. Or perhaps you’re already pursuing LEED certification, and want to know how CalGreen will affect you. Fear not: CalGreen isn’t as scary as it sounds, and can, in fact, work synergistically with LEED and allow you to meet both requirements at the same time.
For starters, here are the basics on what CalGreen is: CalGreen is a more stringent building code that requires, at a minimum, that new buildings and renovations in California meet certain sustainability and ecological standards. It means every new building built after January 1, 2011 will need to meet a certain baseline of efficiency and sustainability standards, raising the bar for what is allowable. This isn’t just commercial, either – this also applies to all residential building permits as well. This new building code will help us reduce our emissions to pre-1990 levels, which will not only increase our air quality, but will cut down on energy consumption, making new buildings more economical for the owners. Though it may mean a slightly increased cost in building and design, the long-term benefits of these new “green” buildings will be felt for many years to come.
CalGreen has two components – mandatory measures as well as voluntary measures as documented on this checklist. The mandatory measures are exactly what they sound like – minimum baselines that must be met in order for a building to be approved. There’s no choice in these matters… they range from water efficiency, indoor air quality, and sustainable building materials. Above and beyond these, however, you can opt to achieve the voluntary measures laid out in the code. These not only increase the efficiency of the building, but can be adopted by local jurisdictions if they decide they want to try for the more stringent tier 1 and 2 requirements.
Say you’re already pursuing a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) project. You’re in luck – CalGreen and LEED have a good deal of overlap, and it’s possible (even likely) that your LEED project already meets the minimum requirements for CalGreen. Of course, because LEED allows you to earn points by focusing on different areas such as sustainable sites, indoor air quality, and innovation in design, it’s possible you may be deficient in one or more areas, and will need to put some time and effort into bolstering that part of your design.
Whatever the situation, California Living and Energy can help. We offer in-person training designed to familiarize you with the new building code and explain what it means in plain English.
We offer the following services for Residential and Non-Residential projects:
CalGreen Plan Checks - Some local ordinances are unable to provide this during permitting, especially if they required Tier 1 or Tier 2 compliance in their jurisdiction. They will require our approval of your plan set for CalGreen compliance.
CalGreen Special Inspections - We offer full service CalGreen special inspection services at rough frame and also at final, and can provide certifications for compliance as well for all your new construction or addition/alteration projects.