Homebuilders say standards will help the environment and protect housing affordability
SACRAMENTO – The California Building Industry Association today said the state’s adoption of new mandatory green building standards will help ensure that California remains at the cutting edge of the green building movement while keeping new homes as affordable as possible.
The California Building Standards Commission today made California the first state in the nation to incorporate green building standards into its building codes. The codes, developed by the state Department of Housing and Community Development, will be phased in over the next three years.
Robert Rivinius, CBIA’s President and CEO, said the new statewide standards will help homebuilders move green building into the mainstream.
“California homebuilders are already building homes that are far more energy-efficient than homes built to national standards, and that also conserve water and other important natural resources,” said Robert Rivinius, CBIA’s President and CEO. “In fact, the carbon footprint of a new home built today is already 25 percent less than that of a home built in 1990.
“Our members are willing and eager to take green building to the next step, but we need consistent, understandable and cost-effective standards that will ensure we don’t add to the state’s already critical housing affordability problems. By mandating these practical and cost-effective green building standards statewide, the state is once again taking a pioneering role in ensuring Californians enjoy environmentally friendly homes at a cost they can afford.”
The standards address the following key issues:
• Energy Efficiency (July 2009): The HCD standards require compliance with the California Energy Commission’s Residential Energy Efficiency Standards, which will increase the stringency of existing statewide energy standards by 20 percent. The new standards will make new California homes approximately 50 percent more energy-efficient than homes built to national energy standards.
• Water Conservation (July 2011): The HCD standards require a 20 percent reduction in overall water use within all new homes starting on July 1, 2011. While this new water-conserving building code will allow a variety of compliance options, it is anticipated that compliance with this requirement will commonly be met via installation of new super-low flow toilets and showerheads.
• Air Quality, Moisture Control & Resource Conservation (January 2011): There are 16 features in this remaining category that will become mandatory at the same time as the new 2010 edition of the California Building Code takes effect, currently projected to happen on January 1, 2011. Among these environmentally friendly features are requirements for low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compound) adhesives, paints and coatings; high-efficiency air conditioning filters to better filter out dust and particulates; and always-on exhaust fans to ensure better fresh air circulation in the home.
In order to help the homeowner or renter understand and properly maintain all of these new features, HCD also will require a detailed building operation and maintenance manual be made available at time of occupancy.
Rivinius compared the adoption of green building standards to previous California building codes that pioneered efforts to increase energy efficiency and ensure accessibility for mobility-impaired residents.
He also pointed out that these standards will be revised and improved on a regular basis in future years, but said today’s action was a well-thought out foundation.
“You have to start any journey with a first step, and we believe that HCD has proposed a very good and solid basis from which to work from in the years to come,” he said.
The California Building Industry Association is a statewide trade association representing thousands of homebuilders, remodelers, subcontractors, architects, engineers, designers, and other industry professionals. More information is available on the Association’s Web site, www.cbia.org.