On January 12, California passed the nation’s first statewide green building code, which will cut water use, require recycling of construction waste and step up energy efficiency in new homes, schools, and commercial buildings. All new State buildings have been required to meet at least LEED silver standards since 2004. The new regulations, which take effect January 2011, will help the state reach its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent by 2020. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a leader in fighting climate change and protecting the environment.
While some environmental groups protested that the standards did not go far enough – they are less stringent of standards already adopted by San Francisco, LA and more than 50 other California jurisdictions – the mandatory Green Buildings Code (CALGREEN) requires developers to cut water use in buildings by 20 percent by using more efficient fixtures, would divert 50% of all construction debris away from landfills to recycling, and would require that strict building standards be verified by inspectors. The California Air Resources Board projects that the mandatory standards will remove three million metric tons of emissions from the air by 2020.