Reducing the Costs of CALGreen Implementation by Using Green Code Pro

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Green Building Codes like the California Green Building Standards Code are new and complex. Designers and building industry professionals must find ways to implement those codes in a cost effective manner to stay competitive. Tools like Green Code Pro can help.

As building industry professionals in California start to implement CALGreen, it will be helpful to have a trusted place where you can get answers to questions.

With the introduction of the California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen) on January 1, 2011, California's construction industry is now required to provide a minimum level of sustainability on almost every project. Some of the mandatory requirements of CALGreen merely reinforce requirements that are already mandated by other aspects of California building code, while other requirements are completely new. Architecture, engineering, design, landscape, and construction industry professionals who do business in the state are in the process of learning the new requirements and they are beginning to implement them on projects. In addition, local code officials are developing new processes to assess projects for compliance with CALGreen.

CALGreen implementation may result in a variety of costs to the industry and ultimately to the building owner. However, the intent is that those costs are more than offset by the benefits of reduced energy costs, increased building durability and functionality, improved health of the building occupants, and increased market valuation of the building. CALGreen is meant to eliminate the fees and other soft costs that would be required if a project were to follow a certification standard like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The creators of CALGreen saw a significant benefit in establishing a code that would eliminate those fees, however there implementing CALGreen on your project is certainly not free if compared to a project that does not have to meet the requirements.

Costs related to CALGreen may include:

Additional design time to meet code requirements.
Special Inspector costs in jurisdictions where this is required
Documentation time and related costs for both the design team and contractor
Onsite costs for additional supervision of CALGreen related work efforts
These costs will ultimately be borne by the building owner, but the industry needs to develop methods for implementing CALGreen in the most effective way possible to remain competitive.

The first step for any industry professional is to get educated about the new code. Over the past year there have been a number of training sessions and workshops offered across the state. These have been hosted by local professional groups including the U.S. Green Building Council chapters. In addition, Green Technology which is a non-profit organization has delivered a number of workshops. Another new website called offers free access to an overviews and code snippets for each section of the CALGreen code.

The next step is to understand the code requirements for the jurisdiction where your project is located. CALGreen has mandatory requirements that must be adopted by all code jurisdictions in the state, however, the local jurisdiction has the option to amend the code in some ways to customize it to their needs. Close to thirty jurisdictions have made such amendments so it can be challenging for professionals to quickly find the information they need about the city where they are doing work. The site is helpful in this regard too since it provides a very easy way to type in your city or county name to get information.

The third step is to consider best ways to document code requirements in your contract documents and other project deliverables. Much of this documentation is left to the discretion of the code official, but there are best practices that can be followed to ensure proper compliance. It helps to have examples and templates that can be used to reduce time and costs associated with documentation. Again, can help by providing such resources.

As building industry professionals in California start to implement CALGreen, it will be helpful to have a trusted place where you can get answers to questions and learn about best practices that others are employing on their projects. Green Code Pro was built from the scratch for just that purpose.


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Ginger Rubey

Ginger Rubey
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