Building and construction
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How Secure Is Your Building Site?
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California's new building code: CalGreen
Having already covered LEED Certification as well as Title 24, the latest in California's regulatory efforts towards statewide sustainability is our first statewide green building code, passed in January of this year.

The building code, which is to be titled CalGreen, will begin to take effect next year, January 2011. The code enforces restrictions on certain utility use for new construction. Areas of interest are primarily water and electricity use, the state looking to regulate sustainability through quantifiable measures. The code also enforces the reduction of waste as well as recycled or low-pollutant materials being used for construction. Regular energy inspections will also become standard due to the fact that mechanical systems can typically lose their efficiency over a course of several years.

More interesting though is the code's creation of a new, government-operated ratings system. The new rating system, also titled CalGreen, will work in the same manner as LEED and other third-party certification groups. The new system will not have the same ratings as LEED -- silver, gold, platinum -- but will rather have the rankings be separated into tiers, i.e., CalGreen Tier 1 and Tier 2. A copy of the CalGreen draft can be found here. The code does not have its own criteria for CalGreen Tier 1 and 2, but rather instructs all new builders to comply with the latest edition of Savings by Design, Healthcare Modeling Procedures, a set of instructions put forth by Pacific Gas and Electric.

Complaints have arisen that CalGreen will only enforce the minimum standards in green design rather than encourage innovations in sustainability. While this could be true, it is still far better to enforce builders to face the current issues with state-mandated regulations, rather than having a select number of firms attempting to lead the cause alone.

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