California Introduces Statewide Green Building Code


Where LEED Once Led: California Has A Conservation Rush.
California has proposed a new statewide building code aimed at improving energy efficiency and water consumption.
In what was described as the United States' first statewide "green" building rules, the California Building Standards Commission said the code would help reduce the carbon footprint of every new structure in the state., Agency France Presse.

The Commission proposal is still in the public comment period, but let's assume that something resembling what was proposed will be made final in the winter of 2009. What does it mean; what's next?Goals of the new code include: 50 percent landscape water conservation reduction; energy use of new structures are 15%t better than under existing standards; and, greater use of recycled materials.

That the strict formaldehyde off-gassing limits proposed might make it hard for FEMA to respond with trailers in an emergency could be a possible drawback. (Joking)

Governor Schwarzenegger had this to say in a press release:

"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. This is literally a groundbreaking move to ensure that when we break ground on all new buildings in the Golden State we are promoting green building and energy efficient new technologies. Cars and buildings are two of the leading users of energy — we're already addressing cars, and these new building standards will ensure that California remains at the forefront of reducing our carbon footprint and conserving valuable natural resources while also protecting our economy. We have already committed to making our state-owned buildings more green and energy efficient and this statewide code will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and conserve water in all new buildings.

"With today's action, California continues to lead the nation and I commend the hard work of the Building Standards Commission to adopt the first-in-the-nation statewide green building standards."
Here's how things will proceed.

Proposed codes made final by 2009.

Handful of other states copy it inside of a year.

You'll hear about it on NPR.

USGBC will grumble a bit, and then adapt to state and regional needs.

Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck will characterize it as "________"

In a year or two (say by mid-2010) there will be minor amendments to make the codes more effective.

Congress Critters will propose incentives for other states to do similar code revisions. Builders will lobby against that, claiming it is unconstitutional to mess with codes at the Federal level.

The US will become a patchwork of green building and zoning issues and stay that way unless by voluntary collaboration led by Governors.

The full draft of California's newly proposed building codes can be downloaded here, as pdf file.

More about needed changes to state and local building codes:

Big Steps in Building: Change our Building Codes from Relative to ...
Siting in the Hurricane Zone: a Green Building Challenge
Big Steps In Building: Make LEED Mandatory for Condos
Big Steps in Building: Install Gray Water Recovery Everywhere ...

Image credit::Building Green, San Francisco

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