Charles Russell, June 6, 2011

On May 15, 2011, the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) released a new CALGreen guide booklet for residential occupancies. This is significant because they have added an additional 112 pages onto the existing 58 pages. The HCD added new documents pertaining to verification, expanded the FAQ section, and included a lot of additional information you may find useful.

Among the updates include clarifications about lowrise residential buildings. The new interpretations and applications are found on page 7 and 8.

  • Residential buildings taller than three stories are not considered low rise residential buildings by definition, but are still residential buildings.”
  • Residential buildings taller than three stories are not non-residential buildings and do not need to comply with the non-residential portions of the CALGreen code.”

Some jurisdictions have been applying the mandatory measures of commercial buildings to residential buildings four stories and higher. The State now indicates this is incorrect. In a recent meeting with Doug Hensel from the HCD, he indicated that the definition of lowrise residential buildings wil be addressed during the 2013 code adoption process.

On page 10 of the updated HCD guide, there is a Q&A about amending the California Energy Code. The guide provides an explanation about the process to amend the CEC for a local jurisdiction.

On page 51, there is a FAQ about capillary break. The guide presents some valuable informatoin about the intent of the code and provides comments on the difference between vapor retarder and vapor barrier.

Overall, I give the State high marks for the guide and its contents. The guide is available at: