The emphasis on civic responsibility has seen many industries adopt the “Go Green” mantra enthusiastically. The California Green Building Standards Code, commonly referred to as “CalGreen” was brought into effect on August 1, 2009 to outline architectural design and engineering principles that are in synergy with environmental resources and public welfare. CalGreen is driven by the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, promote healthier environments to live in and prevent wastage of energy and water resources.
But first, let’s rewind back a bit and talk about where exactly CalGreen fits into the broader set of California regulations.
• Simplifying CalGreen and Title 24: The California Code of Regulations (CCR) covers legal codes for a variety of administrative fields – such as education, law, crime prevention and public health. There are a total of 28 regulation titles pertaining to these different spheres of administrative governance. Title 24 is the California Buildings Standard Code. CalGreen code is Part 11 of this 13-part building code.
• The Green Building concept: Green Building is a holistic approach towards design, engineering and construction that takes into account the building’s impact on its environment. CalGreen aims to minimize the negative impacts by stipulating certain regulations throughout the buildings’ lifecycle. It encourages sustainable construction practices in:
1) Planning and Design
2) Energy Efficiency
3) Water efficiency and conservation
4) Material Conservation and resource efficiency
5) Environmental Quality
CalGreen Covers both residential and non-residential buildings. There are separate code sections for low-rise and high-rise buildings.
Some common types of residential buildings covered are:
• Hotels, motels, lodging houses, dormitories
• Apartment buildings, condominiums, townhouses, employee housing
• One and two-family dwellings, homeless shelters, factory-built housing and other type of dwellings with sleeping accommodations.
Some common types of non-residential buildings covered are structures used for manufacturing, industrial factories (such as food-processing), and institutional facilities such as schools and assisted living facilities
CalGreen also includes provisions for any additions or alterations made after construction. A common alteration is replacing any current non-compliant plumbing fixtures with water-conserving ones.
Mandatory measures: CalGreen sets minimum standards for buildings, and since 2016, this applies to all new constructions, alterations/additions to increase a residential building’s area/volume/size and nonresidential building additions of 1,000 square feet or greater and/or building alterations with a permit valuation of $200,000 or above (except tenant-space remodeling which does not alter the building shell or systems)
Some residential and non-residential mandatory measures are:
CalGreen is implemented by local architects and other design professionals by creating a CalGreen checklist of the measures. Here’s an actual checklist implemented by the city of Riverbank: Non-Residential Mandatory Checklist
Voluntary measures – A two-tiered approach
You can find the checklists for the residential voluntary measures here:
Tier 1 Residential Measures
Tier 2 Residential Measures
How does CalGreen compare with other code requirements?
CalGreen compliance is enforced through