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California Greening: State's New Green Building Codes Have Some Crying Foul

CAL Green

It is good to see California taking such an initiative to strengthen environmental standards in the state. Hopefully CAL Green and LEED will be able to work together, since a greener America is the ultimate goal. Thanks for the article.

Where the rubber meets the road - unhappy consumers...

Speaking from an Electricians standpoint - there is nothing that makes a building owner more unhappy than me having to tell them that the state has made design choices in lighting and controls in their home. All of the many other green ticket items in the home they are building or remodeling hardly get noticed or acknowledged unless there is significant cost involved. No one seems to care about the recycled blue jeans used as insulation, or the reclaimed framing - but lighting gets noticed...

California's Title-24 Part 6 is clearly written by manufactures boosting sales of their highest priced products by legal mandate... While there are a few 'out's' available from high efficacy lighting - which varies by price and subsequently quality - many of those 'out's' are not available to all economic classes. This leaves the middle class in California starved for lighting that does not cause seizures - or just painful to look at... While the excessively rich get the highest quality cutting edge lighting - while it still may not be completely pleasant to read by, one could still brag about their energy savings... But the middle class is waiting for the inspector to leave to start the 're-remodel' to get rid of their cheapest available - but still expensive CFL's and vacancy sensors.

Dare I say it - I'm not looking forward to the future of educating Architects, Designers and home-owners about what I have to force down their throats...

Costs vs. savings

It's hard to educate people that they will be saving more money in the long run with these new technologies. Not just for themselves, but saving the state money as well -- their tax dollars are diverted to deal with public health effects and the ever-increasing costs of fossil fuel power generation instead of other critical areas like education and public safety.

People always complain about building code changes, even when it's for earthquake-resistance and building safety: the changes were intangible and utterly intrusive until that day when suddenly people were directly affected, and saw the consequences.

Education is key -- once people understand the actual benefits (instead of the spin), they are much more amenable to these changes.

Broad Support for CALGREEN

Last week, the California Building Standards Commission effectively “mainstreamed” green building provisions into the body of our state building codes, making California the first state in the nation to do so.

With regards to the issue of "third-party verification", the Building Standards Commission and the Department of Housing & Community Development simply went with standard operating procedure used over the past 30+ years by putting the local building department in charge of plan check and inspection of green building provisions; just as they are for structural, seismic, fire safety, disabled accessibility and energy efficiency provisions in the code. If a local jurisdiction is inclined to “farm-out” some (or all) of its administrative authority to one or more private sector entities, they have that authority. For decades, many local jurisdictions have been going to private sector entities for help in plan checking and inspecting state and local code provisions. All the BSC did last week was to refrain from encroaching on this local authority.

Broad Support for CALGREEN

This story does not mention that there is extremely broad support for these codes. More than 20 professional organizations from AIA to all major real estate groups to the organization representing local building officials, are officially on record supporting what California adopted.

Confusion is created for design and construction professionals when a patchwork of local standards based on private programs are overlaid on the base codes and CALGREEN will increase sustainability while minimizing confusion.

I am not sure why the minimum building code - CALGREEN - and LEED are seen as competing. They should work in conjunction with one another to further increase the minimum level of sustainability in our state for all new buildings, while facilitating the envelope to continue to be pushed with private standards and the top 25%.

It will be tough, but most people believe our industry it up to the task!

Great LEED tool

use - the best online resource for quickly identifying regionally manufactured products that can help earn LEED points for certified wood, recycled content, reclaimed material, rapidly renewable material and low VOCs

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