Green Building Programs Compared Post IV

Posted by Ben Licari on Mar 18, 2015

This is the fourth in a series of posts summarizing the various green building programs currently in use. 

Earlier posts summarized LEED®, Build It Green, and StepUp2Green. CALGreen Overview: As of January 2011, all California land use authorities must adopt the new California Green Building Standard (CALGreen).

CALGreen was adopted into the California Code of Regulations by the California Building Standards Commission in Title 24, as Part 11. It is as much a part of the Building Code as other codes (fire, electrical, etc.) are. Key elements of CALGreenare:

1. Many parts of CALGreenappear not to have been well thought out or lack necessary detail.We expect this will lead to some “growing pains” as this program is launched. Building department personnel will be required to be up to speed on this program in order to perform plan examinations and building inspections, but we understand most are not at this point. We expect cities and counties will be scrambling to adopt and administer this new code, which has been imposed by State politicians without an increase in local agency funding. We expect significant confusion until local building departments have been able to get “up to speed,” and selective enforcement by both the local agencies and the State is certainly possible. 

2. Contains both Residential and Non-Residential measures, some are mandatory, and some are voluntary. In addition to the basic level, two additional “Tiers” are awarded for compliance with certain pre-requisites and additional elective measures: ten additional measures for Tier 1; seventeen additional measures for Tier 2. 

3. Many of the measures are “prescriptive” based, with some “performance” substitutions allowed, particularly in the water use/consumption area. 

4. Energy efficiency requirements remain essentially unchanged, requiring compliance with Title 24, Part 1 Energy Code.

5. There are some new requirements that installers of HVAC systems and inspectors be trained and certified, but not much guidance as to how to do this. The complete California Green Building Standards Code (including checklists and forms for documentation submittal) can be found at:

6. A guide to implementation of the new code can be found here:

7. The required measures will likely become stricter as time goes on.For now, we believe the State will be challenged to fully implement the existing program by the January 1, 2011 deadline. 

8. Build It Green worked with AIA to develop a chart that compares CALGreen with the other standards.

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