NORTH BAY -- A number of North Bay cities that have crafted green-building ordinances over several years are now moving fast to reconcile those requirements with new mandatory elements of the California Green Building Code, or CalGreen, before they take effect in January.
North Bay governments are moving toward a subregional approach to align local and statewide green-building standards in time for state agency approval ahead of the January deadline, according to local building officials. While CalGreen has parallels with the GreenPoint rating system by Build It Green that many local jurisdictions use as a benchmark for residential projects, building officials note a number of differences with the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, system used for nonresidential projects.
First introduced in 2008 as a voluntary statewide standard for green building, CalGreen, as of the 2010 update published in July, contains mandatory elements as well as two tiers of voluntary measures.
As part of the California Building Code, local governments have to adopt CalGreen along with other updated state codes and any localized changes such as provisions from existing local green-building provisions. The local jurisdiction would need approval from state agencies for stricter amendments by the January deadline, else the standard CalGreen provisions apply.
Sonoma County governments largely are moving toward the recommendation released recently by the Redwood Empire Association of Code Officials, according to Michael Whitaker, Santa Rosa chief building official, and DeWayne Starnes, deputy director of the county's planning and permit department.
"There's been a history of one-upmanship in this area that we're trying to get past because it doesn't seem to work," Mr. Whitaker said.
The association, made up of building department personnel and consultants in Marin, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties, suggested local governments adopt as mandatory for residential projects both the CalGreen basic requirements as well as the first tier of voluntary green-building measures, such as increasing energy efficiency by 15 percent higher than the current state requirement.
"We all resolved to go to tier 1 as mandatory to be where we are at with existing green rating systems, because to do anything else would be backsliding," Mr. Starnes said.
A countywide standard would help with differing GreenPoint tallies from one jurisdiction to another because of differing adopted versions of the rating system, according to Mr. Starnes. He noted that 90 points in Rohnert Park would be roughly the same as 50 points under the newer version in Santa Rosa but potentially not the same mix of points for the 50 points needed in Healdsburg.
Napa Valley jurisdictions are expected to follow Napa's lead in taking CalGreen further than the mandatory elements of the 2008 version of state code enacted this summer, according to Steven Jensen, the city's chief building official and part of the committee that created CalGreen.
"I anticipate we will coordinate with the county and American Canyon," he said.
In addition to the mandatory 2010 measures, Napa also will make tier 1 standards mandatory.
However, the large taskforce that put together Napa's ordinance is being reconvened to see how commercial projects, remodels and additions would be handled under the new CalGreen.