Controversial California Greening

Photo courtesy of Wonderlane/Flickr Creative Commons

In 2011, California will be ringing in more than just a new year. Beginning next January 1st, the nation’s first statewide green building regulatory code will go into effect to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and water use in a move towards a greener California.

In a press release, Governor Schwarzenegger said, “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 communities by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency in every new home, office building or public structure.”

The program will be run through CALGREEN, a “comprehensive and uniform regulatory code for all residential, commercial, hospital and school buildings, ensuring that every new building in California is built using environmentally advanced construction practices.”

The standards code will require:

  • 20% reduced water use Individual water meters for nonresidential buildings’ indoor and outdoor water use
  • 50% of construction waste must be diverted from landfills
  • Mandatory inspections of energy systems
  • Low-pollutant emitting interior finish materials

However, according to the LA Times, environmentalist groups such as the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council are saying the CALGREEN code may be a step backwards.

While the CALGREEN standards may provide an adequate bare minimum standard for improvement, the regulations fall well short of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

In addition to environmental groups, "More than 200 architects, engineers and builders have e-mailed Schwarznegger in...three days to oppose the CalGreen label." 

While California attempts to set the standard for statewide green building efforts, environmentalists are saying it’s far from perfect.

Is the new CalGreen standard a step towards our nation's future building standards or an easy way back to the regulations of the past?

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