CALGreen, published by the Building Standards Commission, is organized into chapters for Residential and Non-Residential buildings. There are both mandatory and voluntary measures. Mandatory measures apply statewide and voluntary measures can be adopted by local jurisdictions. Voluntary measures are organized into (2) tiers with their own respective prerequisites and elective measures: Tier 1 prerequisites set a higher baseline than CALGreen mandatory measures while Tier 2 prerequisites include all of Tier 1 prerequisites plus some enhanced or additional measures. Electives are compiled of additional measures not included anywhere else.

The greatest impact lies in having to exceed Title 24 by either 15% or 30% for Tier 1 and Tier 2 respectively. The reasoning behind this goes back to what is considered a green building by the California Energy Commissioning (CEC) and the Department of Housing and Community Developing (HCD). CALGreen requires you to simply meet Title 24, but the CEC (which developed the California Energy Code) thinks that only a building that exceeds it by 15% minimum can truly be called a Green Building.

As an example, below are some of the prerequisites and electives you can expect when building up to Tier 1 standards for Residential projects.


  • Displaced topsoil shall be stockpiled for reuse in a designated area and covered or protected from erosion.
  • Not less than 20% of the total parking, walking, or patio surfaces shall be permeable.
  • Specified Cool Roof material, where values are determined by slope design.
  • 5% of the total number of parking spaces provided for all types of parking facilities shall be designed for future EVSE.
  • 15% minimum over Title 24.
  • Quality Insulation Installation site inspection.
  • Newly installed outdoor lighting power shall be no greater than 90% of allowed outdoor lighting power.


  • Cement used in foundation shall be reduced to not less than 20% (fly ash, slag, silica fume, rice hull ash).
  • Recycling Content of 10% for the total cost of construction.
  • Enhanced Construction Waste Reduction of 65% with a qualified third party verified facility.
  • 90% of total area of resilient flooring systems needs to comply with VOC emissions.
  • Thermal insulation pre-selection; typically UL GREENGUARD GOLD.

Keep in mind that, in addition to General Notes, all of these measures need to be properly documented within the drawing set by use of call-outs, product cut sheets, and calculations.

VCA Green offers consultation services for CALGreen Tier measures such as these. For more information, contact Moe Fakih below:

Moe Fakih, Principal

Contributing Writer: Barbara G. Gonzalez, Project Manager