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Could become new standard;  multiple training sessions set

NORTH BAY -- The California Green Building Standards Code, or CalGreen, is set to be implemented in January 2011, and education for industry professionals is starting to ramp up.

CalGreen has mandatory requirements for new residential and nonresidential buildings throughout California. It is Part 11 of Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations. The original code, published in 2008, only had voluntary requirements.

The code is established to reduce construction waste, make buildings more efficient in the use of materials and energy, and reduce environmental impact during and after construction.

Groups like the North Coast Builders Exchange; American Institute of Architects; California Building Officials, or CALBO; and the Building Standards Commission are all starting to have trainings to educate industry people on the new requirements.

Michael Whitaker, the chief building official for the city of Santa Rosa, is working with AIA to have training in October. He said that trainings have just begun to spring up and that is partly because of how complex the code is.

“I think that people are trying to learn and understand it,” he said.

Currently, the code is voluntary. In Santa Rosa as well as other jurisdictions, people building either residential or non-residential buildings follow either the Build it Green guidelines or the LEED guidelines.

“We recommended to the city that we go away from the Build it Green and LEED,” said Mr. Whitaker. “They agreed. The problem they are running into is what level do we follow the CalGreen code?”

He said that CalGreen is not a point system but that there are requirements. They will have to figure out what level to use.

And, he said, “We expect in three years it will ramp up.”

He said it is likely all building will go through the same process.

He said that in addition to relying less on LEED and Build it Green, they are trying to get all jurisdictions to enact the same codes.

The intro to the code reads: “It is essential that local government recognize this new code and take steps to ensure that building department personnel are properly trained to carry out enforcement activities beginning on Jan. 1, 2011. In particular, building department personnel performing plan examinations and building inspections are those who will be primarily responsible for enforcing the code.”

Mr. Whitaker said that by converting to CalGreen, things will be streamlined both for builders and for those who enforce the codes.

The upcoming trainings are:

CALBO will host its Northern California training at the San Ramon Marriott from Oct. 4 to 8. The conference will have 60 courses in a variety of topics.

On Oct. 21 there will be a conference on CalGreen sponsored by NCBE, Redwood Empire Association of Code Officials, AIA and the Phillips Group.

AIA is also hosting the North Coast Green Summit on Thursday, Sept. 16. It is a “gathering of professionals concerned with advancing sustainable technologies, green construction and renewable power generation, all while fostering job growth. Our 2009 event was a huge success, drawing much more than just a local crowd.”

This year, Panama Bartholomy of the California Energy Commission will be a featured speaker.

To find out more about CalGreen, visit www.bsc.ca.gov/CALGreen/.