CALGreen, California’s first green building code

By Ali LoPiccolo
Marketing Intern
Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)

California is recognized for having ambitious climate and energy goals. Pursuit of these goals requires the state to seek thoughtful action while ensuring that the energy systems remain stable and accessible. As a part of California’s Building Standards Code, ‘Title 24 Part 11’ addresses the state’s green building standards code, also known as CALGreen.

What is CALGreen?

CalGreen is California’s first green building code and the first state-mandated green building code in the nation. This set of building standards is intended to improve public health, safety, and general welfare through the use of concepts that promote positive environmental impact and encourage sustainable construction practices. Additionally, these standards aid in reaching California’s landmark initiative AB 32, which addresses cost-effective reductions of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020.

CALGreen was adopted to address the following divisions of building construction:

  • Planning and design
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency and conservation
  • Material conservation and resource efficiency
  • Environmental quality

Each category acknowledges a set of mandatory measures that must be followed depending on whether a site is residential or non-residential. These guidelines aim to restore and enhance the environmental quality of a site while also respecting the integrity of adjacent properties.[1]

Requirements within each section highlight topics such as – storm water drainage, electric vehicle charging space, water conserving plumbing fixtures and fittings, potable water use, construction waste management, recycling, paints and coatings, and heating and air-conditioning system design.[1]

Figure 1: Regulations Included in the CALGreen Code [2]

Green Building Mandatory Voluntary
Indoor water use reduction 20% 30%, 35%, 40%
Water meters Non-residential
separate indoor & outdoor
Construction waste diversion 50% Residential
Tier 1 – 65% Tier 2 – 75%
Inspection of energy systems Non-residential
exceeding 10,000 sq ft
Low pollutant emitting materials paint, carpet, vinyl flooring, particle board
Energy efficiency exceed 2008 standards
Tier – 15% Tier 2 – 30%

The full Residential/Non-Residential Measures can be found at the respective links.

Additionally, compliance forms and worksheets have been created in order to support the CALGreen documentation process. These resources are meant to be used as aids in the effort to meet the various requirements. Those seeking guidance can refer to the CALGreen Forms and Worksheets page.

CALGreen and LEED

In 2018, the USGBC announced that projects built to California’s green building codes (CALGreen) are pre-approved for streamlining of fundamental LEED requirements when pursuing certification under LEED v4.[3] Due to the robust energy and building codes put in place by California, LEED is able to celebrate the movement towards reduced carbon emissions and allow projects to pursue both CALGreen and LEED in an attainable and cost-effective way.

In addition to the benefit of a streamlined LEED certification process, the inclusion of mandatory green building strategies in local codes creates numerous positive ripple effects as other cities and states observe the benefits that result from higher standards.

Buildings account for almost 40% of global energy-related CO2, making requirements like CALGreen an important framework and invaluable investment in sustainable transformation.[4]

SIG in California

Sustainable Investment Group (SIG) is headquartered in Atlanta with additional offices in Minnesota and California. Located in San Francisco, SIG’s California office is led by Nick Kassanis, PE. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact Nick at







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