California Gets New Green Building Code

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorSacramento, Calif.–The California Building Standards Commission recently adopted the nation’s first statewide “green” building code, which is intended to lead to improved energy efficiency and reduced water consumption in all new construction throughout the state, while also reducing the carbon footprint of every new structure in California.“Once again, California is leading the nation and the world in emissions reductions and finding new ways to expand our climate change efforts,” says Commission Chair, Rosario Marin. “The commission should be commended for bringing everyone to the table including representatives of the construction and building trades industry, environmental groups and labor organizations, and achieving something no other state has been able to.”The new California Green Building Standards Code will result in significant improvements in water usage for both commercial and residential plumbing fixtures and target a 50 percent landscape water conservation reduction. The code also pushes builders to reduce the energy use of their structures by 15 percent more than today’s current standards. The new code declares the minimum standards that California will accept in environmentally friendly design. Local jurisdictions and builders who wish to do more are applauded.According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), buildings nationwide account for 70 percent of electricity consumption, 39 percent of energy usage, 12 percent of potable water consumption, 40 percent of raw materials usage, 30 percent of waste output (136 million tons annually), and produce 39 percent of associated greenhouse gases (CO2).California’s new building standards will result in increased water and energy savings through a combination of more efficient appliances more efficient building design and operation. The code also encourages use of recycled materials in carpets and building materials, and identifies various site improvements, including parking for hybrid vehicles and better storm water plans. Additionally, the new code contains standards for single-family homes, health facilities and commercial buildings. The code is composed of optional standards that will become mandatory in the 2010 edition of the code. This adjustment period will allow for industry and local enforcement agencies to prepare for, and comply with, the new green building standards. Moving forward after 2010, the California Green Building Standards Code will be updated on an annual basis to ensure that the latest technology and methods of construction have been incorporated to always maintain a high level of standards.