CALGreen: A Game-Changing Code Leads to a New Partnership

Maria Salazar and Casey Thomas staffing ICC's exhibit booth at a CALGreen seminar in Oakland

Maria Salazar and Casey Thomas staffing ICC's exhibit booth at a CALGreen seminar in Oakland.

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Environmental policy initiatives in California have established models for everything – from energy efficiency and emission standards to greenhouse gas reduction in both state and federal programs.

The 2010 California Green Building Standards Code, or CALGreen, continues this tradition. Published by the International Code Council (ICC), CALGreen is the first statewide green building code in the country. It becomes mandatory in January 2011, and applies to all new residential and commercial construction.

The state developed the code in response to a directive from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Dave Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission, oversaw a three-year process that engaged a diverse group of stakeholders, including the California Building Industry Association (CBIA), architects, designers, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and the California Business Properties Association; and state agencies such as the Air Resources Board, the Integrated Waste Management Board, the California Energy Commission, the Department of Water Resources, and the Department of General Services. Certification groups, including USGBC and Build It Green, were also included, as well as non-profits such as the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund.
“We really tried to bring [together] an entire spectrum of people and groups with different perspectives and expertise to build a consensus,” said Walls. “That was our attempt and our effort – if we were going to put something in the code we wanted to make sure it was right.”

Gearing Up for the Change
CALGreen will change construction in California, including new requirements for low-VOC paints, carpet and flooring, recycling of construction waste, a 20 percent improvement in water efficiency, and commissioning for nonresidential buildings over 10,000 square feet.
With this in mind, the Code Council has formed a partnership with Green Technology, a California-based non-profit organization with a mission of supporting public and private sector efforts to build clean and sustainable communities.
To advance this mission, Green Technology organizes three annual conferences – the Green California Summit, the Green California Schools Summit, and the Green California Community Colleges Summit – in partnership with senior state officials and leaders from local government, education and the private sector. Through Green Technology magazine, as well as white papers and reports, it covers innovations in the policy and practice of sustainability.
In partnership with the California Building Standards Commission and the California Department of Housing and Community Development (which is responsible for the residential portions of CALGreen), Green Technology developed a series of CALGreen seminars that have been taught in communities throughout the state, reaching more than 3,000 building professionals. The Code Council has joined this effort as a sponsor, and has worked with Green Technology to make the newly published edition of the code available to attendees.
“Through its role as the publisher of CALGreen and its long history of efforts to provide codes that ensure health and safety in the built environment, ICC is essential to the greening of communities in California,” said Green Technology president Bob Graves.
“We are excited about this new partnership, especially its potential to support the effective implementation of construction practices that can make all new buildings healthy and efficient.”
As another element of the partnership, the Code Council is joining Green Technology as a Green Building Partner, i.e., it will provide special expertise for its Green California Summits. The largest of these, the Green California Summit, will take place in Sacramento from February 28-March 2, 2011.

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