How CALGreen is Impacting Design and Construction Practices

To incorporate sustainability into building construction and design, California established the California Green Building Standards Code—known as CALGreen for short. As the first statewide green building code in the United States, this code’s voluntary and mandatory measures aim to reduce environmental impact during and after construction while increasing buildings’ efficiency in materials and energy usage. As a food manufacturing and/or storage facility owner, you should understand that CALGreen is changing the way the building industry does business.

What is CALGreen?

Though the first CALGreen edition, published in 2008, contained only voluntary standards, the current edition (published in 2013) contains both mandatory and voluntary standards intended to reduce water and energy consumption and “promote environmentally responsible, cost-effective, healthier places to live and work.” The code is applicable to most new building design and construction in California beginning Jan. 1, 2014 and recognizes the difference between:

  • New construction

  • Additions

  • Alterations

In addition to the mandatory provisions in the state code, it’s important to be aware that cities and counties in California can establish their own mandatory green standards relevant to local climate, geology, topography and environment.

While the California Air Resources Board predicts the code will slash greenhouse gas emissions by at least 3 million metric tons by 2020, CALGreen on the other hand, has also created additional minimum standards for building compliance and added required documentation to illustrate compliance is met (e.g. water consumption calculations, commissioning for certain buildings). How CALGreen is impacting design and construction practices

Although it is expected that implementation of the code’s mandatory measures will create energy and water savings in the long run, you may experience a higher upfront cost. CALGreen, concurrent with the California Energy Code, requires commissioning for all new non-residential buildings over 10,000 square feet. Commissioning must be performed by experienced trained personnel, and it pertains to all building systems and components covered by Title 24, Part 6, as well as process equipment and controls, landscape irrigation, and renewable energy systems.

Being educated on CALGreen standards (in addition to the mandatory ordinances in your food processing plant’s local jurisdiction) is critical to ensuring a smooth, successful design process. Here are the key major mandatory measures in each of CALGreen’s five categories relevant to new construction:

 1. Planning and design

  • Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan for all projects (including those with site disturbance less than one acre)

  • Short-term bicycle parking for 5 percent of residents

  • Long-term bicycle parking for 5 percent of total parking capacity

  • Designated parking spaces for low emissions vehicles (LEVs) or carpools for 8 percent of total parking capacity

  • Light pollution reduction through compliance with Title 24 and ensuring that no light leaves the site

  • Drainage plans and grading should ensure that no surface water enters the building

2. Energy efficiency

  • Meet the minimum energy efficiency standards as currently required by the California Energy Code, CCR Title 24, Part 6

3. Water efficiency and conservation

  • 20 percent reduction in overall water use over baseline fixtures

  • 20 percent reduction of wastewater generation through greywater reuse or efficient water fixtures

  • Individual submeters must be installed in buildings over 50,000 square feet for individual tenant spaces that would consume more than 100 gallons of water a day

  • Individual submeters installed in buildings of any size that would have more than 1,000 gallons of water consumption per day

  • Separate submeters for outdoor water use for areas between 1,000 and 5,000 square feet

  • Weather sensor-controlled irrigation systems for landscaped areas between 1,000 and 2,500 square feet

4. Material conservation and resource efficiency

  • Divert a minimum of 50 percent construction and demolition (C&D) waste through recycling or salvaging

  • Construction Waste Management Plan that addresses:

    • Target waste types to be diverted

    • Diversion techniques

    • Agencies responsible for diversion

    • Compliance with local ordinance (if any)

  • Moisture control within the building

  • Operations and maintenance commissioning of new buildings (commissioning is not required for additions and/or alterations)

  • Accessibility to recycling area in the building

5. Environmental quality

  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and halon-free HVAC and fire suppression systems

  • Protection of mechanical systems during construction (including sealing duct openings)

  • CO2 sensors installed in case of demand-controlled ventilation

  • MERV 8 filters on outdoor and return air ducts

  • All adhesives and sealants used in the building must comply with South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule 1168 VOC limits and Rule 1168 prohibitions on certain toxic compound usage

  • Paints and coatings must comply with California Air Resources Board Architectural Suggested Control Measures; aerosol paints must comply with product-weight MIR limits for ROC

  • Carpets must comply with:

    • The Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label Plus Program

    • California Department of Public Health Standard Practice for the testing of VOCs (Specification 01350)

    • NSF/ANSI 140 at the Gold level

    • Scientific Certifications Systems Indoor Advantage

  • 50 percent resilient flooring to comply with VOC emission limits defined in the Collaborative for High Performance Schools low-emitting materials list or certified under the Resilient Floor Covering Institute FloorScore program

  • Acoustic design must comply with American Society for Testing and Materials E90 and E413

While these measures are specific to California, sustainable building design practices are becoming the norm nationwide. The International Code Council (ICC) has published International Green Construction Code (IgCC), which is already in use, or adopted by, 13 states. Staying up to date on sustainable codes, practices and mandates is crucial to maintaining industry best practices and protecting the environment.


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