It’s Finally Here! Mandatory CA Green Building Code

Effective January 1, 2011 the California Building Standards Commission released mandatory California Green Building Standard Code (CAL Green Building Code). 


For the past couple of years cities have been creating their own version of green building codes.  The purpose of CAL Green Building Code is to establish a standarization of green building codes and practice throughout municipalicies across California thus provide less design headaches, less construction mix ups, and faster approvals.  The new code is applied to new construction both residential and commercial buildings, except certain residential residential buildings.




To see the full version of the 193 pages of CAL Green Building Code:


The general requirements for CALGreen Code for residential are listed below (see code for all requirements and full details):


  • Storm water management during construction
  • Surface drainage of developed site
  • 20% water savings from indoor plumbing fixtures
  • Multiple
    shower heads for single shower will be calculated into total water use
    calculation and must combine to 20% savings with other fixtures
  • Landscape water use must have weather or soil moisture controllers 
  • Efficient framing techniques
  • Enhanced durability and reduced maintenance
  • 50% construction waste reduction
  • Operations and Maintenance manual provided to owner
  • VOC limits on paints, coatings, carpets, composite wood, agrifiber, resilient floor systems, (must provide documentation)
  • Fireplace requirements
  • Duct and mechanical equipment opening must be protected
  • Interior moisture control
  • Humidistat for bathroom fan

As a Realtor in the San Gabriel Valley area, I'm thrilled that this has finally come into law so that building and design industry can build homes that are more energy efficient, use less waste, and more water efficient.  For years it has been a voluntary practice but now it is mandatory.  I have two types of clients who react to this change.  One is fearful, a builder that I know.  He knew the code was coming so he quickly pulled the permit before the deadline.  He was fearful that it would be more costly for redo and redraw everything that he had.  He thinks green materials would be more costly and most of his subs don't understand.  Another client of mine was hopeful, he was very optomistic about the new code.  Because he was building with the same standards 3 years before.  He went to green building classes, attended seminars on how to improve his skills of building a better home.  New constructions is almost non-exsistent in this market, but because of this new code it's setting the standard, I feel that I now have hope for greener homes.  There's still many toxic mortgages and inventories of homes in the market.  The real estate market is still going through a cleansing before it can grow.  I'm excited that new homes this year and forward will be greener homes! 



May Hsu is a Real Estate
Professional based in Pasadena, CA, specialize in selling and buying
real estate in the San Gabriel Valley.  May is dedicated to promote green
building and green real estate practice, health, and environmental


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