California approved the most stringent, environmentally-friendly building code in the United States that will apply to new commercial buildings, hospitals, schools, shopping malls and homes, reports USA Today. The new code, which won a unanimous vote by the California Building Standards Commission, will take effect in January 2011.
The new code, dubbed CAL Green, requires builders to install plumbing that cuts indoor water use, divert 50 percent of construction waste from landfills to recycling, use low-pollutant materials, and install separate water meters for different uses in nonresidential buildings, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
The new code also requires energy system inspections by local officials to ensure that heaters, air conditioners and other mechanical equipment in nonresidential buildings are working efficiently, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
The California Air Resources Board estimates that the new building code will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent) by 3 million metric tons equivalent in 2020.
In addition, local jurisdictions will be able to keep their stricter existing green building standards, or adopt more stringent versions of the state code, reports the San Franciscio Chronicle.
More than 40 California cities have some form of green building ordinances. As an example, in October 2008, the city of San Jose adopted LEED standards for all new construction. In November last year, San Mateo passed a new law that all new commercial buildings have to be constructed to minimum environmental standards.
Property owners can also label their facilities as CAL Green compliant, once they pass state building inspection, without the additional cost of third-party certification programs. The mandatory CAL Green provisions will be inspected and verified by local and state building departments.
“The code will help us meet our goals of curbing global warming and achieving 33 percent renewable energy by 2020 and promotes the development of more sustainable communities by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency in every new home, office building or public structure,” stated Governor Schwarzenegger in a press release.
The code is supported by the state Chamber of Commerce as well as many builders and realtors, who said the new provisions would only slightly increase construction costs, reports USA Today.
However, the regulations were opposed by several private organizations that offer construction rating systems, including the U.S. Green Building Council, which said it could result in confusion for builders, local governments and the public, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.