Search This Blog

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

California Green Building Code Mandatory as of 1/1/2011

We can say thank you to the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, that starting on 1/1/2011 there will be a new mandatory green building code in California called "Cal Green".  While the Cal Green code is not a revision of the entire building code, it affects the implementation of all areas of the code and is a new "book" for the stakeholders to learn, and for owners and contractors to perform to.  Like most other California code revisions, it is expected to be copied and modeled after over the coming period in other parts of the country as we move from optional green building standards managed by non-governmental agencies and non-profits to mandatory standards in most states.

California is a fluid building environment and that fluidity is ironic considering the highly structured nature of the building code and local building regulations. This fluidity comes from the myriad or risks and responses created when you have almost 37 million people living in one state, overzealous health and safety officials and a myriad of other layers of state and local enforcement, and contractors and owners making conservative interpretations of the codes.

Commercial construction has widely adopted the USGBC's LEED standard when mandated by the cities or required by project developers who are staying competitive in their markets, but most residential construction is not completed to a green building standard.

It is not that there are not residential green building standards, it is because there are too many of them, and the market does not have a clear incentive to use one.  Green building standards have multiplied to the point where it is too diluted for residential consumers to understand the differences between the prohibitively strict LEED for Homes program versus the more laissez faire home builder's association National Green Building Standard.  For an recent and extensive comparison of green building standards and their implementation across the country, see Alicia J. Miller's thesis here.  

When private industry self-regulates a market will form and that market will eventually become competitive.  In the case of standards competing in the free market the consumer loses confidence that private groups are being fair intermediaries of the green building standards between consumers and the businesses that do the development work.  Even the so-called "non-profit" companies that run green standards are funded by the memberships of private businesses, many of which are only members because of the presumed economic benefit to their firms. 

Only government's prescriptive control of standards can flush out the consumer confusion of the diverging standards by getting rid the market for their product, an over-supply of standards.  By its nature, that regulation will both get rid of the best and worst types of private label green building codes with standardization as the result.

If you want help learning more about the CalGreen code or building in California using one of our building systems, please contact us or visit our green building modular homes site.

No comments:

Post a Comment