California adopts green building standards

California has become the first American state to adopt a mandatory green building standards code.

While green regulations exist in cities throughout the USA, this is the first state-wide initiative of its kind.

The standards, known as CALGREEN, will require all new buildings to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible, with an emphasis on water conservation.

Although they have now been passed by state Governor Arnold Swchwarzenegger, the regulations will not come into force until January next year.

"With this first-in-the nation mandatory green building standards code, California continues to pave the way in energy efficiency and environmental protection," said Gov Schwarzenegger.

"This action lays the foundation for the move to greener buildings constructed with environmentally advanced building practices that decrease waste, reduce energy use and conserve resources.

"The code will help us meet our goals of curbing global warming and achieving 33% renewable energy by 2020 and promotes the development of more sustainable communities by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency in every new home, office building or public structure."

CALGREEN will require every new building in California reduce water consumption by 20%, divert 50% of construction waste from landfills and install low pollutant-emitting materials.

It also requires separate water meters for non-residential buildings' indoor and outdoor water use, with a requirement for moisture-sensing irrigation systems for larger landscape projects and mandatory inspections of energy systems for non-residential buildings over 10,000 square feet to ensure that all are working at their maximum capacity and according to their design efficiencies.

The California Air Resources Board estimates that the mandatory provisions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent) by 3 million tonnes equivalent in 2020.

Upon passing state building inspection, California's property owners will have the ability to label their facilities as CALGREEN compliant without using additional costly third-party certification programs.

Sam Bond



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