California Adopts Strictest "Green" Building Codes In U.S.

By Loren Faulkner | September 28, 2010

After years of planning, the California Building Standards Commission (CBSA) adopted into law on Thursday the first statewide "green" building code in the nation. Governor Schwarzenegger issued this statement immediately after the vote:

"By adopting this first-in-the-nation statewide green building code, California is again leading the way to fight climate change and protect the environment."

Tough Standards

Rosario Marin, chairwoman of the CBSA, summed up the new codes in a recent article:

  • it will give our state the most advanced building standards in the United States.
  • the new standards …go well beyond the Title 24 energy standards that California adopted a few years ago- which put us on the map as environmental trailblazers…The Title 24 standards have become the model for many other states.
  • The new…codes will require significant improvements in water usage for plumbing fixtures,
  • specify household and landscape water conservation reductions of 20 percent for homes
  • set 15 percent stronger requirements for energy savings than we currently enforce. We will find these energy savings through a combination of more efficient appliances, better insulation, and more efficient windows. 
  • This code will also encourage the use of recycled materials in carpets and building materials, identify a number of improvements to air quality, and suggest various site improvements, including parking for hybrid vehicles and better storm water plans.

The new codes can be viewed at:

National Attention

The U.S. Green Building Council, from Washington D.C., was quick to offer its approval of the California’s new rules in a written statement:

  • Buildings account for 39% of the energy used in the US, 71% of electricity use, and
  • 39% of C02 emission.
  • Buildings are our first, best opportunity to reduce energy use and C02 emissions, and greening them must be a critical component of any policy approach that aims to fight climate change.
  • the new standards adopted unanimously today by California’s Building Standards Commission are an important step for moving California’s buildings to a higher level of performance.

The new green building codes will be voluntary in California in 2009, but fully enforceable in 2010.