California Building Standards Commission unanimously adopted the first-in-the-nation mandatory Green Building Standards Code (CALGREEN) requiring all new buildings in the state to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible. Taking effect on January 1, 2011, these comprehensive regulations will achieve major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and water use.

CALGREEN will require that every new building constructed in California reduce water consumption by 20 percent, divert 50 percent of construction waste from landfills and install low pollutant-emitting materials. It requires mandatory inspections of energy systems (e.g., heat furnace, air conditioner and mechanical equipment) for nonresidential buildings over 10,000 square feet to ensure that all are working at their maximum capacity and according to their design efficiencies. The California Air Resources Board estimates that the mandatory provisions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent) by 3 million metric tons equivalent in 2020.

Upon passing state building inspection, property owners will have the ability to label their facilities as CALGREEN compliant without using additional costly third-party certification programs.

In addition to the mandatory regulations, CALGREEN also includes more stringent voluntary provisions to encourage local communities to take further action to green their buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and conserve our natural resources.

The mandatory CALGREEN provisions will be inspected and verified by local and state building departments. CALGREEN will use the long-standing enforcement infrastructure that the state has to enforce its health, safety, fire, energy and structural building codes. Many of the mandatory provisions in the code are already part of the statewide building code, making verification of CALGREEN an easy transition for local building inspectors.