California Establishes Statewide Green Building Standards

July 23, 2008

The California Building Standards Commission adopted on July 17 a statewide green building code, which the state claims as a first in the nation. The new California Green Building Standards Code contains standards for single-family homes, health facilities, and commercial buildings and will encourage builders to reduce the energy use of their structures to 15% below the energy use that is achieved with the state's mandatory energy efficiency standards. The standards also address onsite renewable energy use, water consumption, green building materials, indoor air quality, and other measures. The new standards will become mandatory for housing in 2010 but are currently optional for all buildings, allowing time for the building industry and local building code officials to adjust to the new standards. After 2010, the green building standards will be updated annually. See the press release (PDF 20 KB) from the California State and Consumer Services Agency and the Green Building Standards Code on the Building Standards Commission Web site. Download Adobe Reader.

California may also be the first state to launch a map-based directory of state-owned facilities that have achieved or are pursuing LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is one of the leading green building certification programs in the country. Under an executive order signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2004, all new and renovated state-owned facilities must meet LEED Silver certification requirements, the third-highest level of certification available. You can check the state's progress in a Google Maps interface or view an Excel spreadsheet of the state's green building data. See the Green Building Directory.