California Building Code changes take effect

On Jan. 1, California will see the introduction of the first Green Building Standards Code in the nation.


Linda Williams, of The Willits News, explains what 2011 has in store for California's Green Building Codes.

A series of changes to the California Building Code go into effect Jan. 1. This represents about 200 pages of new state code.

The changes introduce the first-in-the-nation Green Building Standards Code, or CALGREEN. This new code is expected to make new buildings more energy efficient and environmentally responsible by reducing energy, waste and water use. While these code changes apply as a minimum to all new buildings within California, more restrictive local codes may apply.

The new CALGREEN standards include a mandatory 20% reduction in indoor water use for residential and nonresidential buildings. While the California Building Code also sets a maximum water use allowed for separate fixtures, such as shower heads and toilets, the CALGREEN standard then requires the building must use 20% less than the sum of the maximum allowed for each fixture.

The new standard requires a 50% reduction in landfill disposal of construction and demolition debris. A construction waste management plan is required to identify the materials to be diverted for recycling, reuse or salvage. It must also specify which materials will be presorted at the construction site and which will be comingled. It should identify the diversion facility and the construction methods employed to reduce the amount of waste generated. This must be documented to the waste management authority.

Building inspectors are now authorized to examine the buildings, structures or sites applying for a building permit prior to issuing a permit.

Storm water drainage and retention during construction which disturbs less than an acre of soil shall "manage storm water drainage during construction."

Other changes require the installation of automatic fire sprinklers for all one and two family dwellings. Carbon monoxide alarms must now be installed in dwelling units and in sleeping units which have either fuel burning appliances or attached garages. At least one electrical outlet is now required for each balcony, deck or porch. All 120 V circuits with receptacles within a residence will now require arc-fault circuit interrupter protection. All dwelling unit receptacle outlets shall be tamper resistant receptacles.

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