Thursday, December 30, 2010

What is Green Building? Thoughtful Shopping for Materials is a Key Element

There is a myriad of choices that can be made when selecting and procuring building materials, regardless of the scope of the project. Rather than automatically going to the "big box" corporate retailer to buy (probably) materials manufactured in Asia with that big carbon footprint, think about taking a little time to find a Greener alternative.

The money spent at the corporate outlet leaves the local community. The transportation involved in getting the materials from outside the U.S. to your neighborhood consumes a lot of energy and produces a lot of CO2 emissions.

We are fortunate here in Sonoma County to have several local family-owned building materials retailers that are competitive in price with the corporate giants. Having grown up in a family that operated a business like that, I rarely darken the door of the "big box" store. The dollars spent in a locally-owned business circulate among friends and neighbors, rather than leaving for distant corporate headquarters.

I recently finished a kitchen facelift including new flooring. I was able to purchase American-made laminate flooring with almost all recycled content at one of the locally-owned suppliers at a very competitive price. That transaction supported American jobs, provided a healthy, low-carbon footprint improvement to the home, and circulated dollars in the local community.

This is just one small example of how thoughtful materials selection can have a ripple effect moving toward sustainability, both globally and locally.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CAL GREEN--California Green Building Code 2011

Taking effect on January 1, 2011, the California Green Building Standards Code will require all new residential and commercial buildings to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible. The result of several years of work, it will also serve as a model for other states and building codes. The general goals of CAL GREEN are to promote "greener buildings constructed with environmentally advanced building practices that decrease waste, reduce energy use and conserve resources", according to Governor Schwarzenegger.

Some specific requirements for every new building include:
--Reduction of water consumption by 20%.
--Diversion of 50% of construction waste away from landfills.
--Installation of healthier, low-toxic building materials.
--Requires separate water meters for nonresidential buildings indoor & outdoor water use.
--Calls for moisture-sensing irrigation systems for larger landscape projects.
--Mandates inspections of energy systems (heat furnace, air conditioning & mechanical systems)
for nonresidential buildings over 10,000 square feet.

The California Air Resources Board estimates that greenhouse gas emissions may be reduced by 3 million metric tons in ten years. Property owners can label their facilities as CAL GREEN Compliant after passing inspection, without an additional third-party verification. Approximately 40 local jurisdictions already have voluntary Green building standards in place. CAL GREEN will provide a consistent, state-wide mandatory code, setting a high standard for the entire country.

Thanks to California Green Solutions for the above summary. We look forward to working with the new code in the coming year. Contact us for assistance as you develop your building project.