San Francisco Mayor Approves Strict Green Building Codes

Tue, 2009-09-22 11:15

San Francisco took a major step Monday to cement its reputation as the most environmentally progressive city in the United States, as Mayor Gavin Newsom signed into law stringent green building codes for new construction and renovations of existing structures in the city. The new building codes focus on water and energy conservation, recycling, and reduction of carbon emissions. They apply to most buildings in the city, including residential projects of all sizes, new commercial buildings over a certain size, and renovations of large commercial spaces.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that San Francisco will require all new commercial buildings to be LEED certified. What’s neat about this is that in 20 years, San Francisco’s building stock will have a significantly reduced environmental impact and will be significantly healthier for the occupants. This type of legislation can have its biggest impact over decades, and it's great to see that they are the first in the country to make green building a part of the standard building codes.

The question now is what economic impact will this legislation have on the city? Will the new rules be so costly to implement that it drives business out of the city, or will developers simply adjust and once the scale of city-wide green building kicks in will building costs be a wash? Will businesses relocate across the Bay to escape the regulation, or will they embrace them? It is going to be interesting to see what happens.