Green Building CodeHome and office are far too often two things that become one in a negative context. A home office theoretically means no break, no refuge and the surging of two aspects of your life. But, what might be an energy-sapping project on a personal level is set to save the state of California up to 33% in energy usage by 2020. The California Green Building Standards Code, unanimously approved on January 12, 2010, promises landmarks of less waste into landfills and smarter irrigation as building standards, according to the Business Standards Commission. In the near future, memories of construction that isn’t focused on conservation may be a thing of the past. But, this is 2010, and LEED certification is king. This begs the question, do the most notable green building projects have what it takes to stay true to green code across the state of Caliornia? After all, even building projects that thought they stood on good green footing may not anymore. Four huge changes include:
  • Water consumption reduction of 20%
  • Diverting 50% of construction waste from landfills
  • Separating water meters for commercial buildings’ indoor and outdoor water use
  • Moisture-sensitive irrigation systems for large landscape projects
Let’s see how one high-profile California building project measures up with the new standards in mind.

The 2008 Calabasas City Project

This project gives hope for the new legislation; it happened two years ago, and included a whole city — two factors that make the changes in Calabasas, CA, groundbreaking, according to The Acorn. You know the saying: if one (whole city) can do it, anyone can. Calabasas simply decided not to wait for the statewide ordinance to come into effect this year. With the same standards required now, the city voluntarily adopted the 2008 California Green Building Standards Code. With an emphasis on small changes for the entire town, builders of commercial and residential projects checked off some hefty requirements. With points attached to each improvement, the builders had to reach a total of 20. To give an idea as to how many alterations this requires for contractors, engineers and architects, the following improvements only add up to 16 points:
  • Reducing water use for irrigation by 50% (6 points)
  • Planting water-efficient landscaping (6 points)
  • Using local materials (2 points)
  • Handling construction waste properly (1 point)
  • Using advanced framing techniques (1/2 point)
  • Using Energy Star appliances (1/2 point)
With water conservation, energy efficiency and construction waste under a microscope, the city noted that the changes were worth it. One official even noted that these requirements were seen as “low-hanging fruit” that would instantly reward the city in savings and negative imprint. But, this isn’t to say that there hasn’t been flack for the code’s shortcomings. Two-tiered labeling sytems mean that voluntary codes leave some standards open to interpretation by local officials. The worry is that these officials may not be as qualified to check standards as LEED or another third-party vendor, according to The Los Angeles Times. As the story says, the nation (and the world) will be watching.