Leave it to California to be the first state in the nation to mandate a green building standard. The California Building Standards Commission has officially adopted the Green Building Standards Code (CALGREEN), which will be operational as of January 1, 2011. CALGREEN will require that all new buildings in the state take measures to increase their energy efficiency and minimize their impact on the environment.

The green building requirements set forth by the CALGREEN standards include:

  • 20% reduction in water consumption
  • 50% of construction waste diverted from local landfills
  • Low VOC materials
  • Separate water meters to track indoor and outdoor water usage
  • Mandatory inspections of HVAC and other building energy systems
Once a building passes the inspection process, the property can then be marketed as CALGREEN compliant.

It was interesting to read through some of the documentation on the CALGREEN Code, including one form that compares the California Green Building Standards Code (PDF) to “point-based systems”, like the LEED rating systems. Naturally the main benefit of CALGREEN is that it doesn’t cost a property owner any extra money to receive the CALGREEN compliant designation. This code is mandated and so building owners have to follow it.

However, I don’t predict that we’ll see a significant drop in new California-based projects registering for LEED certification. While the CALGREEN standards address many of the same environmental concerns that the LEED rating system does, it isn’t going to come with the world-class recognition that the USGBC’s LEED certification has built.

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