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State's Green Building Code to Change Construction Standards

Licensed contractors should prepare for first-in-the-nation statewide mandates

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is alerting contractors to significant changes in California's building codes that are designed to positively impact the environment and encourage sustainable construction practices.

California's Green Building Code standards, established by the California Building Standards Commission (BSC), seek to lower energy and water use in new and renovated buildings in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020. These reduced emission levels are mandated by Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

The newly adopted building code establishes the following requirements for residential construction:

  • Greater Energy Efficiency (by July 1, 2009): Energy standards in new homes and apartments will be 20 percent more stringent than current requirements.
  • Greater Resource Conservation and Air Quality (by January 1, 2011): Adhesives, paints and coatings will be required to have little or no volatile organic compounds. Heating and air filters will have to meet minimum requirements for dust and other particulate filtration. Construction site waste will have to be reduced by 50 percent.
  • Water Conservation (by July 1, 2011): Indoor water use must be reduced by 20 percent. There are a variety of compliance options, but it is anticipated that most will be met through the installation of low flow toilets and shower heads.

Input from public workshops throughout 2009 will help determine green building standards for commercial and state buildings. Those requirements will become mandatory in 2011, except for the energy provisions which, like residential construction, take effect July 2009. The BSC developed the Green Building Code with input from the construction and building trades industry, environmentalists and labor unions. Most provisions will become mandatory in the 2010 edition of the California Building Standards Code, which takes effect in January 2011.


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