This page last reviewed June 30, 2014

Beyond Code

Additional greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions can be achieved as local governments pass green building ordinances that include targets to exceed minimum state standards or mandates.  Beyond code efforts are basically measures that can be adopted as mandatory at the local level, but, they are more progressive than the minimum mandatory provisions outlined in building codes.  In some cases, cities are adopting ordinances to exceed the Energy Code by fifteen or thirty percent.  Other local governments are taking a more holistic approach and adopting "beyond code"  ordinances to mandate LEED for all new residential construction or GreenPoint Rated for all new residential buildings.  

Local Government Green Building Programs

Cities and counties are essential partners contributing significantly to California's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  Several local municipalities are already taking action to be part of the solution to address climate change.  Many of these municipalities have enacted policies, ordinances, and guidelines that mandate or encourage green building in commercial and residential developments to increase energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions.  They have the authority to establish more restrictive standards that exceed the mandatory measures in the CALGreen because of local climatic, geological, or topographical conditions.

In response to new State mandates to reduce energy and greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, local governments have adopted local ordinances that may have stringent energy and green building requirements.  You can find information on local agencies that have adopted energy ordinances on the  California Energy Commission website.

3rd-Party Certification

Many green building programs exist to evaluate and rate energy efficiency and environmental performance of buildings.  Most of these systems are voluntary programs that have strong presence within the building design communities.

Below are several of the more well-recognized green building rating systems:

  • The US Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program is a nationally accepted rating system that provides a whole building approach to certification of new and existing green buildings that cover design, construction and operations.
  • Build It Green (BIG) administers the GreenPoint Rated residential green building rating program with a California focus.
  • The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) offers a green building certification program geared towards California schools.
  • Green Globes is an environmental assessment, education and rating system, which addresses both new construction of commercial buildings and the maintenance and improvement of existing buildings.

For questions or comments, please contact: Dana Papke Waters at (916) 324-9615