Saturday, June 04, 2011

What is CALGreen?

California recently passed legislation (effective January 1, 2001) mandating sustainable measures in New Construction. Below is a brief primer that I recently produced on CALGreen. It is brief and only scratches the surface of the topic. However, I do provide links for more detailed information.

Follow this link for a formatted pdf of this article.

CALGreen in One Sentence
CALGreen is a new sustainable building code (Effective 01/01/2011) being adopted & required by municipalities for new construction projects in California.

The Basics
  • There are Mandatory Provisions with two optional Tiers of more stringent provisions.
  • Municipalities can choose whether to adopt these Tiers depending on how 'green' they want to be.

Technically, CALGreen is Part 11 of Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations.

Applicable to New Construction Only

  • The AHJ may have its own definition of "new". For example, an addition where the (N) addition footprint is larger than the (E) footprint. Check with local AHJ!


  • Self-Commissioning for Buildings under 10,000 SF (Chapter 5.410.2)
  • Unlike LEED, CALGreen has no requirements for Post Occupancy Verification

Higher level of sustainability efforts. Some municipalities adopt ‘a la carte’ or have hand-picked selected portions of the requirements. As of March 2011:

  • Approx 20% of municipalities have Adopted Tier I requirements.
  • 3 of 500 municipalities have adopted Tier II requirements.

Examples of "a la carte": Cool Roofs, Dedicated FEV Parking.

Basic Description of CALGreen Requirements for New Construction1
  • Reduce water consumption by 20 percent.
  • Divert 50 percent of construction waste from landfills.
  • Install low pollutant-emitting materials.
  • Separate water meters for nonresidential buildings’ indoor and outdoor water use.
  • Moisture-sensing irrigation systems for larger landscape projects.
  • Mandatory inspections of energy systems (e.g. heat furnace, air conditioner and mechanical equipment) for nonresidential buildings over 10,000 SF to ensure that all are working at their maximum capacity and according to their design efficiencies.

Types of Buildings Covered
  • Residential
    • Anything with a Bed
    • Motels & Hotels
    • Low-Rise Apartments & Condos up to 3 Stories*
    • Dormatories
    • Employe Housing
    • SIngle Family Homes
    • Shelters
    • Duplexes and Townhomes
    • Live/Work (Falls under Chp 4)
    • Assisted Living
    • Low-Rise Apartments & Condos up to 3 Stories*
  • Non-Residential (Commercial)
    •  All other NEW buildings not listed in the other two categories
    •  State Owned Buildings  
    •  4+ Story Condo Buildings
    • State Owned Universities & Community Colleges
    • Initial Tenant Improvements - Only the initial tenant build out (following Core &Shell construction) must comply. Subsequent Tenant Improvements do not need to comply. Example: Video store closes. Coffee Shop moves in, demolishes video shelves, and installs registers and brewing equipment. Coffee shop does not have to comply with CALGreen.
  • Other 
    • Public Elementary Schools
    •  Private Schools (Private Schools not under DSA)
    •  Public Secondary Schools
    • Hospitals

Mixed Use – Use Both Residential and Commercial Requirements
  • For Housing – Use Residential
  • For Retail, Office, etc, Use Non-Residential
Phased Construction (Core & Shell)
  • Only applicable sections apply (e.g. Waste Prevention, Pollution Prevention, etc.)
* Given the complexities of wood-framed over podium, fire-sprinkler variables, and limits on max # of stories, many ADJ have adjusted this for low-rise up to 6-stories. Check with AHJ during programming or due diligence.

Adopting State Agencies

  • California Building Standards Commission (BSC)
  • Department of Housing & Development (HCD)
  • Division of the State Architect (DSA)
  • Office of Statewide Health and Planning Development (OSHPD)

CALGreen vs. LEED
  • CALGreen ≠ LEED Certified
  • The mandatory requirements of CALGreen only qualify for 7 LEED points and only 4 of 9 Prerequisites of LEED NC v3.
  • Depending on which voluntary measures are taken, Tier 1 of CALGreen is roughly equivalent to LEED Silver.

Chapters of CALGreen

1 – Administration

2 – Definitions

3 – Green Building

4 – Residential Mandatory Measures

5 – Nonresidential Mandatory Measures (Commercial Buildings)

6 – Referenced Organizations & Standards

7 – Installer and Special Inspection Qualifications

8 – Compliance Forms & Worksheets

Appendix 4A – Residential Voluntary Measures (TIERS 1 & 2)

Appendix 4B – Nonresidential Voluntary Measures (TIERS 1 & 2)

Costs of CALGreen

  • One study puts the additional cost to comply with mandatory provisions at $0.75 - $1.00/SF for a 2,000-3,000 SF House. This equates to an extra $1,500 - $3,000 for a single family home.
  • Commissioning will run from $1.00 - $1.25/SF depending on the size and complexity of the building.

Selected Details of the CALGreen Code
While this section contains detailed information on some of the aspects of the CALGreen code, it is by no means exhaustive. For more information on all aspects, a full text pdf of the CALGreen code is available here.
Chapter 4.3
Water Efficiency & Conservation - With respect to the mandatory requirements, these requirements do not leave the bathroom. If you begin to wander into Tier I or Tier II, you will need to address W/D and kitchen issues.
Chapter 4.303.1
20% Indoor Water Savings -  For this prescriptive method, you take the average for fluid flush and solid flush for dual-flush toilets.
Chapter 4.303.2
Multiple Showerheads Serving One Shower - You cannot go over 2.5 gal/min for dual heads.
Chapter 4.303.13
After 2014, you will not be able to buy a +1.28 gal/flush toilet in CA.
Chapter 4.505.1
Covering Openings on Mechanical Ducts During Construction - If the building is a high-rise or medical or has extensive ducting, this can be logistically difficult.
Chapter 4.504.2
Finish Material Pollutant Control (VOCs) - Self Reported. Affidavit by Owner, GC, or Subcontractor.
Chapter 4.505.2
Concrete Slab Foundations - Use 1/2" aggregate for capillary break and use a vapor-barrier between aggregate and concrete slab. Using a 6mil or 10 mil layer of visqueen is not acceptable.
Chapter 4.505.3
Moisture Content of Building Materials (Under 19%) - Field Verify and protect framing during wet weather.
Chapter 5.304.2
Separate water metering. Can affect CAM charges.
Chapter 5.404
Finish Material Pollutant Control (VOC) - PSL, OSB and composite wood products are exempt.

Authority/Authorities Having Jurisdiction
Building Standards Commission
Common Area Maintenance
California Code of Regulations
Division of the State Architect
Fuel Efficient Vehicle
Housing & Community Development
Model Landscape Ordinance
Oriented Strand Board
Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development
Parallel-Strand Lumber
Volatile Organic Compound

Websites & Links
Primer on CALGreen by Brightworks – this is a very good document

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