Updated California Building Code offers flexibility to construct greener buildings
On July 1, California added enhancements and improvements to the CalGreen Building Code that set higher standards for conserving water, saving energy, and improving indoor air quality. The code enhancements also provide a flexible framework for green design.
For example, the original code made major advancements in reducing water use, but it did so within a rigid set of guidelines. Now, building professionals are encouraged to be more creative in making buildings and landscaping more water-efficient through "performance method analysis." This approach was chosen to encourage new technology and products to be introduced into the marketplace and enhance the green jobs economy.
Design professionals now have a broader set of choices on creating energy-efficient structures. They can use a combination of efficient insulation and windows, along with renewable energy sources such as solar power. The code changes do not mandate solar power, but highly encourage it.
The new code also improves standards for interior building materials to provide healthier environments for occupants. Acceptable materials and construction methods have been further defined to assure that a building will not produce harmful toxins.
Knowledge of the code has become a strategic advantage for construction workers and building professionals. "In the current highly competitive employment environment of the construction industry, knowledge of the code and how to incorporate flexible solutions within the code has become what sets many job applicants apart from their peers," says the manager of a green building educational program.