CalGreen: California Adopts Mandatory Green Building Code

Thu, 2010-01-14 18:47

Congrats to California for creating the nation’s first statewide green building code. The code mandates water efficiency (20% minimum reduction), mandates the recycling of construction waste, cuts back on polluting materials, and steps up enforcement of energy efficiency in new homes, schools, hospitals, and commercial buildings statewide.

The only challenge that I see with it is the creation of a new label, which is called CalGreen. We already have 50+ green label systems nationwide for homes and buildings. Do we need another one? Also, I don’t know the details, but why use a label when something like a sanitation score would have sufficed?

What is also interesting is that many environmental groups were actually reported to be opposed to the standard because they believe the code to be too weak, immeasurable, and unenforceable. The U.S. Green Building Council, which oversees the LEED Certification program, also weighed in with concern on the building code.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the governor's office has responded by saying the council just doesn't want competition for its LEED certification system. While there’s probably some truth in that statement, the end state should be simplicity for both customers and developers. Does yet another label create or hurt simplicity?

Either way, Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, said it best: "This is a heck of a lot better than anything we have now."  So congrats California!