Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wimpy Draft Green Building Ordinance

The draft green building ordinance circulated on July 22nd by the San Carlos Building Department to a group of community stakeholders only addresses building energy efficiency, and fails to address other green building features like water conservation, indoor air quality, resource conservation, or appliance efficiency. The 10-page draft ordinance, which is undergoing additional editing and anticipated to be submitted to City Council for adoption at its August 9th meeting, would require that new commercial and residential construction, residential reconstruction, residential additions over 500 square feet, and commercial additions over 500 square feet be modeled to be 15% more energy efficient than the State currently requires.

Although at its June stakeholder meeting, the Building Department proposed requiring LEED Silver certification for new commercial buildings and 50 to 75 GreenPoints for various sizes of residential projects, the draft does not require or provide an incentive for use of the LEED or GreenPoint programs. And although at its July stakeholder meeting, the Building Department announced its plan to adopt a new otherwise-voluntary State green building program – CalGreen Tier 1 – as mandatory, the draft ordinance does not require this either.

The City likes to claim it is green, yet this ordinance would address far fewer green building issues and be far more lenient than the programs that have been adopted in unincorporated San Mateo County, the City of San Mateo, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Hillsborough, and other nearby communities that have adopted green building programs.

If you believe the City should adopt a robust green building program, we encourage you to (1) e-mail your comments to; and (2) plan to speak at the City Council meeting on August 9th, and check in advance for the final draft ordinance, which should be released with the agenda for the 8/9 City Council meeting.

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