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Green Building
Updated January 2013

Sustainability Best Practice Area

Green building is the practice of designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining buildings in a way that conserves natural resources and saves energy.

Agency

  • Adopt a policy that requires new agency buildings to exceed the minimum requirements of California’s Green Building Standards Code (also known as CalGreen). Options to exceed the standard include CALGreen’s built-in tiers and/or certification under Build It Green’s Green Point Rated system, LEED®, or an alternative certification program.
  • Require agency buildings to exceed Title 24, Part 6, the State’s Building Standard Code which establishes energy efficiency requirements for residential and non-residential new construction and major remodels.
  • Incorporate materials that are renewable, reusable, recyclable, recycled, non-toxic and those that have zero or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Explore using alternate materials such as packed gravel or permeable concrete instead of conventional concrete or asphalt to enhance replenishment of ground water.
  • Develop and implement sustainable landscaping standards for public agency facilities to reduce water consumption.
  • Incorporate water efficient plants, trees, green roofs and rain gardens in agency landscaping.
  • Use compost and mulch in agency landscaping as a water conservation measure.
  • Require new or renovated agency landscaping and parks to incorporate smart irrigation technology systems that save water and energy.
  • Require verification by a certified third-party rater to ensure compliance with green building standards for all newly built agency facilities.

Community

  • Establish a green building awareness program to educate and encourage homeowners and builders to use green building techniques.
  • Organize a sustainable building task force that includes representatives from various fields within the building industry and other groups to evaluate the feasibility of incorporating green building techniques that exceed the state standards into all new building and retrofit projects in the community.
  • Create a dedicated page on the agency’s website to help residents find green building information and resources.
  • Provide information to homeowners and businesses about available utility rebates for new residences and commercial buildings that exceed California’s Title 24 energy code by 15 percent.
  • Provide incentives, such as expedited review/permit processing, to encourage green building.
  • Provide technical and financial assistance and other significant incentives to development projects that meet or exceed specified green building standards.
  • Train appropriate agency staff (such as planners, inspectors, and plan checkers) in green building standards and technologies to facilitate the permitting approval and inspection processes.
  • Adopt a policy that requires new homes, buildings or remodels to exceed the minimum requirements of California’s Green Building Standards Code (also known as CalGreen). Options to exceed the standard include CALGreen’s built-in tiers and/or certification under Build It Green’s Green Point Rated system, LEED®, or an alternative certification program.
  • Adopt a “Solar Ready” ordinance, requiring all new residential buildings to be pre-wired and pre-plumbed for photovoltaic and solar hot water systems. (Required January 2014 as part of the California Green Building Code January.)
  • Require new residential and commercial construction buildings to exceed Title 24 energy efficiency standards, to extent permitted by law.
  • Require new and renovated commercial construction to incorporate smart irrigation technology systems that save water and energy.
  • Require energy efficiency performance audits for specific types of residential and commercial remodeling projects.
  • Require buildings, facilities or affordable housing developments using agency funds or other agency support to exceed minimum state green building or energy standards.
  • Offer fee reductions, waivers, loans or grants to developers and contractors who commit to verifiable green building practices that exceed state or local minimum standards.
  • Offer technical expertise and assistance for community members, builders and businesses undertaking green building projects.
  • Work with neighboring jurisdictions, where feasible, to adopt a regional green building standard that exceeds the California Green Building Code Standard or Title 24 energy efficiency standards.
  • Enact a construction and demolition debris recycling ordinance that requires 50 percent or more diversion of project waste.
The Institute gratefully acknowledges the following individuals who reviewed this best practice area and offered their comments:
  • Aaron Klemm, Energy Project Manager, City of Huntington Beach
  • Jillian Rich, Program Manager, Pacific Gas & Electric
  • Tenaya Asan, Green Point Rated Program Manager, Build it Green

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