California Passes Nation’s Strictest Green Building Code

Even if you don’t live in California, you’re going to want to pay attention to a law that just passed there. It seems that whatever happens in California eventually makes its way to the rest of the country — and in this case, probably everywhere else as well.

The law in this case is the the new green building code, California Code of Regulations Title 24, Section 11, which has already been affectionately dubbed “CalGreen” by locals and the media. Beyond such requirements as a 20% reduction in water usage, recycling of 50% of construction waste and the use of low-emissions paint, carpets, etc., the law will require the inspection of all heating, air conditioning and other mechanical systems in all non-residential buildings over 10,000 square feet, to make sure they are performing to expected levels.

Scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2011, CalGreen sets minimum standards that will apply to all new buildings in California. Local governments, which will be responsible for inspections, are free to set more stringent requirements. State officials note the law will make if possible for even small towns, which in the past may have lacked the resources to create green building codes, to now have what many are calling the strictest code in the country.

While all the players seem to agree that the goal of CalGreen is good, some, especially the US Green Building Council, creator of LEED, are concerned that the adoption of the standards may create some confusion in the marketplace. State officials respond that the program, which will enable owners of buildings who meet the standards to call them “CalGreen” Compliant, actuallly reduces confusion, adding that it will allow certification without building owners having to pay a third party for it.

Rich Silverman
Goodway Blogging Team


  • This is good that we are making a move to reduce waste, it is only a matter of time until the rest of the country adopts this building code.

    February 5, 2010
  • I think California leads the way in environmental policies. I am not sure the policies will be adopted in the rest of the country until we get over this economical slump. I know California requires DALT testing for residential and commercial duct work in new construction and retrofits but this code has not made it to the rest of the country even though leaking duct is proven to reduce efficiency. Commercial real estate is about to take a tumble like residential real estate has done over the past few years and while making upgrades to improve efficiency is important I think an owner facing the possibility of foreclosure is going to put that ahead of any upgrades. In that regard government legislation like this hurts business (especially in this dismal economy) unless you are an HVAC contractor. If there are no customers to serve then their will little if any business for the HVAC contractor which will thin a lot of HVAC contractors out for lack of business. Too much legislation and regulation, too much taxes, and recent bubbles in real estate will take some time to get over.

    February 11, 2010
  • Its Great that once again California is leading the way. As a state who’s primary industry is construction, Florida should follow California’s lead and push its Building Codes in a ‘Green’ direction. One good idea might be offering reduction in Building Code Violation Fines if the solution offers a green solution.

    May 30, 2010
  • It’s nice to see states wanting to go “green” and all but I’m sure things like this are what lead states like Cali to bankruptcy.

    August 9, 2010

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