California Adopts U.S.’s First Mandatory Green Building Code

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

This month, California adopted the nation’s first statewide green building codes.  Dubbed “Calgreen,” these codes are expected to help the state achieve its goal of cutting CO2 emissions by one third by 2020.  According to the New York Times, every new building in California will have to “reduce water usage by 20 percent and recycle 50 percent of its construction waste instead of sending it to landfills… Mandatory inspections of air conditioner, heat and mechanical equipment will be also be instituted for all commercial buildings over 10,000 square feet.”

To help offset the increased construction costs, developers will not have to receive certification from third parties like the U.S. Green Building Council.  The price of a new home will still increase, but since many of the standards save money as well as energy, the codes may result in an overall savings.  They will definitely produce a net drop in carbon pollution — about three million metric tons by 2020.

That California was the first state to adopt these codes isn’t surprising.  Hopefully, they will prove successful, and other states will follow suit.  Since buildings account for a large amount of our energy use, increasing their efficiency is just common sense.


One thought on “California Adopts U.S.’s First Mandatory Green Building Code

  1. Updating State energy codes is an important step towards reducing energy use, cost savings, and emissions reductions. Many people do not know that buildings use one third of our total energy, two-thirds of our electricity. “Research shows that modern energy codes could save about 330 Trillion BTU by 2030, almost 2% of total current residential energy consumption. There would also be comparable savings in consumer energy bills, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions” (

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