New commercial buildings in San Mateo, Calif., will have to be constructed to minimum environmental standards now that a previously voluntary green building ordinance has become mandatory.
The new standards take effect Jan. 1, reports the San Jose Mercury News. They had been voluntary for more than a year.
The law requires a minimum number of so-called “green points” for new commercial buildings, as well as residential, municipal and multipurpose buildings.
Green points can be earned by installing low-flow toilets and using nontoxic paints and wood products that don’t emit formaldahyde. Other examples include using recycled denim insulation and using high efficiency plumbing apparatus.
Builders can choose which eco-friendly elements they want to feature, so long as they earn a minimum number of points. To view the ordinance, click here (PDF).
A Sierra Club official said the guidelines were likely to encourage other cities to follow in San Mateo’s footsteps.
Daly City, Calif., also is considering adopting similar guidelines, reports the Oakland Tribune.
In excess of 40 California cities have some form of green building ordinances, according to the Mercury News.
A recent study found that energy consumption in green buildings can be cut by 30 to 50 percent and still produce a positive return on investments.