Green Building

California Academy of Sciences - San Francisco
California Academy of Sciences – San Francisco
What Is Green Building ?   

Green Building is a holistic approach to design, construction,  and demolition which minimizes a building’s impact on the environment, occupants, and the community.  The 2013 Green Building Standards Code (also called CALGreen®) regulates construction of residential and non-residential buildings, including

  • planning and design
  • environmental quality
  • water efficiency and conservation
  • material conservation and resource efficiency.

Energy efficiency is regulated by the California Energy Code.

The GBSC has “tiered” voluntary regulations, which designers may use and local jurisdictions may adopt for greater green efficiencies, and mandatory regulations, which apply to

  • all new non-residential buildings
  • all new low-rise and high-rise residential buildings
  • additions and alterations to existing residential buildings that increase the building’s conditioned area, volume, or size
  • additions and alterations to existing non-residential buildings that exceed 1,000 sq. ft. or $200,000 permit valuation, except tenant-space remodeling which does not alter the building shell or systems.
What Are The Mandatory And Voluntary Regulations ?

CALGreen regulations include the following




Indoor water use reduction


30%, 35%, 40%

Water meters

separate indoor & outdoor

Construction waste diversion


Tier 1 – 65%  Tier 2 – 75%

Inspection of energy systems

exceeding 10,000 sq ft

Low pollutant emitting materials

paint, carpet, vinyl flooring, particle board

Energy efficiency

exceed 2008 standards
Tier  – 15%  Tier 2 – 30%

What Qualifications Do Installers Need ?

Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning installers must be certified  by a nationally or regional program approved by the local jurisdiction to do work in residential buildings.

Which Jurisdictions Have Adopted Voluntary Regulations ?

Dozens of jurisdictions statewide have adopted supplemental green building ordinances.  The California Public Resources Code requires that energy efficiency ordinances be approved by the California Energy Commission and be more stringent than the Building Standards Codes.

Several independent rating systems have been adopted which certify the efficacy of energy designs, including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) and Green Points Rated developed by a coalition of Alameda County waste agencies.  Jurisdictions have also adopted performance standards (percentage increase over CALGreen®) as alternate means of compliance or as separate requirements from green building practices.  Jurisdictions have different methods for enforcing green building requirements, including conditioning the issuance or final approval of building permits, posting bonds, and assessing penalties.

Check the Links below and your local jurisdiction’s website for additional information,



California Building Standards Commission

International Code Council

Independent Green Building Rating Systems

 Other Links