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Town of Windsor – Green Building Program to Address Climate Change

Case Story

Climate Action Connection: Green Building

Windsor building officials plan to develop a green building tracking process to evaluate the number of projects and the types of measures utilized to better determine the energy and greenhouse gas savings from the program.

Community:Windsor (Sonoma County)

Population: 27,000

Summary

Windsor’s green building program is based upon Build It Green and LEED and applies to both new and expanded residential and commercial projects. To be approved under the city’s annual housing allocation, homes must meet the green building requirements.

Program Highlights

  • Program initially voluntary but became mandatory in 2008; applies to all new residential and commercial construction, as well residential additions above certain size.
  • Permits for new homes each year under annual housing allocation system must meet or exceed green building requirements.
  • Many city staff certified to conduct green building verification.

Lessons Learned

  • Spend time with applicants up front to educate them about green building; this helps demonstrate that green measures are not costly.
  • Try to align the green building program with other cities in the county so developers are not subjected to multiple municipal requirements.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

The Windsor town council first adopted its green building program in March of 2006 as a voluntary one. Due to low participation, the program became mandatory January 1, 2008 and applies to all new residential and commercial construction.

When Windsor incorporated in 1992, in response to growth demands on this largely suburban town, the newly elected town council adopted a growth ordinance limiting the number of new homes to 150 per year. The green building ordinance applies to homes approved through the allocation process, as well as to residential remodels and new commercial projects.

Green Building Program Criteria

Developers requesting approval to build residential units in Windsor must first apply under the town’s “merit process.” Green building is now one of the scoring criteria in this selection process and green building features in a project are one of the most heavily weighted. New homes are required to achieve 50 points on the GreenPoint Rated checklist.

The city’s green building ordinance was amended in 2008 to include energy and water conservation requirements for residential remodels that add 500 square feet or more than 50 percent to the original size.

Currently, new commercial projects are required to meet green building standards, which require 20 points on the LEED checklist. Windsor is considering strengthening the green building requirements for new commercial buildings and may include commercial remodels and tenant improvements, as well.

City Staff is Green Building Certified

Windsor planning and building staff are qualified to certify project compliance with Build It Green/GreenPoint Rated and LEED. Using city staff, as opposed to outside experts, saves applicants the cost of outside hiring experts for verification.
 

Compiled May 2009

This case story was prepared in partnership with the California Air Resources Board.

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