SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The California Building Standards Commission has adopted the first-in-the-nation Green Building Standards Code, called CALGreen. The code, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2011, will require all new buildings in the state to meet more stringent energy efficiency and environmental standards. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the action lays the foundation for the move to greener buildings constructed with environmentally advanced building practices that reduce energy use, decrease waste, and conserve resources.

CALGreen will require mandatory inspections of energy systems (such as furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioners, and other mechanical equipment) for nonresidential buildings with more than 10,000 square feet of floor space, to ensure that the energy systems are working at their maximum capacity and according to their design efficiencies. It also requires that every new building constructed in California reduce water consumption by 20 percent, divert 50 percent of construction waste from landfills, and install materials that emit low amounts of indoor pollutants. In addition, separate water meters are required for nonresidential buildings’ indoor and outdoor water use, with a requirement for moisture-sensing irrigation systems for larger landscape projects. While water conservation is itself a priority in the state, water consumption is directly tied to energy consumption. A 2005 report from the California Energy Commission (CEC) found that water use consumes 19 percent of the state’s electricity, 30 percent of its natural gas, and at least 88 billion gallons of diesel fuel per year, although those figures included water heating.

Upon passing state building inspection, California’s property owners will be able to label their facilities as CALGreen compliant without using additional third-party certification.

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Publication date:02/01/2010