The California Building Standards Commission has adopted the nation’s first state-wide Green Building Standards Code.  California’s new green building standards will be phased in from 2009 to 2011 and include provisions on:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency and conservation
  • Use of recycled and sustainable materials in construction
  • Recycling of construction waste
  • Indoor air quality

The Green Building Standards Code contains numerous optional green building measures, but some standards will soon be mandatory for all new buildings constructed in California.  For example, beginning about January 2011, at least 50% of construction waste generated at any given construction site must be recycled or salvaged.  Starting in July 2011, indoor water use must be reduced by 20%, for instance by using water saving fixtures and flow restrictors.  Low or no-volatile organic compound adhesives, paint, carpet, and other materials will also be mandatory in 2011. 


The mandatory and recommended green building standards in the Green Building Code could have a significant positive impact on energy consumption, water and resource use, and waste generation, considering the amount of resources associated with buildings in the U.S.  The U.S. Green Building Council notes that buildings nationwide account for 70% of electricity consumption, 39% of energy usage, 12% of potable water consumption, 40% of raw materials usage, and 30% of waste output.  The U.S. Green Building Council is the developer of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System, which is considered the leading global standard on sustainable green building and development practices.