SONOMA COUNTY – The county of Sonoma plans to adopt a green-building ordinance in time for more stringently water- and energy-efficient state building codes and project-rating standards to take effect this summer.

Working from a county Board of Supervisors resolution in November, the Permit & Resource Management Department has been putting together a draft ordinance and getting input from various stakeholder groups. The resolution called for residential projects to qualify for at least 50 points on the BuildItGreen rating system checklist and commercial projects to achieve 20 points on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, checklist.

“We’re following in the footsteps of Santa Rosa’s current ordinance, which has already been vetted,” said Deputy Director DeWayne Starnes. “Hopefully, that will provide for quicker approval.”

The board is set to hold a hearing on the draft ordinance in April. Because the draft ordinance would call for energy-efficiency higher than the new Title 24 energy code, set to take effect in August, the California Energy Commission would have to approve it before final county approval in July.

Some in the construction industry are worried over the prospect of a point-based green-building ordinance for projects in unincorporated areas, but it’s really a “gentle beginning” to guidelines for such building, according to Warren Brown, chairman of the North Coast Builders Exchange Green Building Committee and a Graton-based general and electrical contractor.

“We’re seeing in its early shape from Sonoma County a green-building ordinance that is very doable, achievable and very reasonable,” he said.

The county is not intending to ramp up requirements under the green-building ordinance, as Santa Rosa has been contemplating, preferring the “carrot” approach of efficiency upgrades to existing construction funded by the pending Assembly Bill 811 countywide voluntary assessment district, according to Mr. Starnes. Point thresholds would be specified by resolution rather than ordinance to allow for easier adjustment during triennial county code review.

For more information, call Mr. Starnes or building inspector Allen Martin at 707-565-1900. The draft ordinance is set to be posted online by late February.