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CALGreen Green Building Code

Given VCA Green’s extensive code knowledge and background, our firm was one of the first California Green Building Code consultants to educate building officials throughout the State on how to implement the California Green Building Code (CALGreen), which was put into effect on January 1, 2010. CALGreen is part of the Buildings Standards Code in Section Title 24, Part 11 Green Building Code.

Since then, VCA Green has assisted residential and commercial project teams in navigating compliance requirements, favorably resolving code interpretation issues between developers and jurisdictions, and collaborating with general contractors with regards to construction phase implementation.

 Our turnkey compliance saves design teams time so they can focus on their core competencies. We maintain communications with all team members to keep them informed about the subtleties of each code requirement and minimize surprises and delays within the design phase. The CALGreen sheets we produce are often accepted by jurisdictions with minimal or no plan check corrections.

Chapter 4 of CALGreen addresses buildings with residential occupancies that may include multifamily apartments, single family homes, condominiums, monasteries, dorm rooms, hotel rooms, etc. Chapter 4 measures are very specific to these kinds of occupancies, and it is important to not get occupancy classifications confused with Title 24 Part 6 (the California Energy Code) that considers multifamily buildings four stories or more as “nonresidential”. 

Chapter 5 of CALGreen addresses non-residential occupancies such as commercial office, warehouse, schools, retail, data centers, etc. Often a project may have both Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 conditions, especially if the project is designated as mixed use – retail, leasing, office at the bottom floor and residential apartments above. Chapter 5 requires that the following systems be commissioned by a Commissioning Agent – Solar Photovoltaic, Solar Domestic Hot Water Preheat, and Greywater.

The triggers for CALGreen are:

  • Residential
    • New construction projects
    • Permitted construction projects
  • Non-Residential 
    • New construction projects
    • Additions and alterations either 1,000 sq. ft. or more or $200,000 in valuation. 

Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 both have the following green building Divisions:

  • Planning and Design
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Water Efficiency and Conservation
  • Material Conservation and Resource Efficiency
  • Environmental Quality

Planning and Design – Addresses storm water protection, bike parking, electric vehicle parking, light pollution, and grading and paving.

Energy Efficiency – Interestingly, CALGreen does not have energy regulation contained within its language. For regulations related to energy, CALGreen references Title 24, Part 6 (Energy Code). 

Water Efficiency and Conservation – Discusses submetering, fixtures, water consuming devices, and landscape irrigation/greywater.

Material Conservation and Resource Efficiency – Deals with exterior door protection, construction waste recycling, universal waste, occupant recycling and building commissioning.

Environmental Quality – Covers pollutant control, low volatile organic compounds, acoustical control, and refrigerant leakage.

According to State Law, California Green Building Code measures are required to be inserted into design drawings prior to submittal to the jurisdiction having authority. Several jurisdictions may have their own CALGreen checklists that may contain amendments to the code, so it’s important to evaluate those amendments prior to permit submittal. These same agencies may want to see the specific sheet location for each CALGreen measure. 

CALGreen also has Voluntary Measures or Tier 1 and Tier 2, which contain several other green building prerequisites and credits. On occasion, a City may require a project in entitlement to comply with Tier 1 of the Green Building Code to mitigate negative environmental impacts identified in the CEQA report.