Green building is the practice of taking an integrated approach to building construction, building systems, and building sites to provide more environmentally responsive, healthy, productive, economical places to work, learn, and live. Green building also goes beyond the physical buildings to consider how the site and buildings interact with the community and transportation infrastructure. Below are some helpful resources that support the City's requirements for building green found here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Green Building Fees
Green Building Resources
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What if my project does not fall into any of the project types listed above?
If your project does not fall into any of the project types listed above, the project has no green building requirements. However, the City encourages you to consider green building practices where appropriate to save you money on your utility bills, provide a healthier environment for the buildings occupants, and to reduce environmental impact.
Q. What is the difference between Build It Green (BIG) and City verification for residential projects?
Any residential applicant required to use BIG must hire a GreenPoint Rater regardless of which verification path they choose. The difference between the verification options is who verifies the work of the Rater, the cost of verification, and recognition. Under the current municipal fee schedule it is $6 cheaper to choose the City to provide verification, however you do not receive a certificate from BIG, which may be desirable recognition.
Q. How can I find a GreenPoint Rater for my residential project?
Build It Green offers a searchable Certified Rater Directory here: http://www.builditgreen.org/en/directories/search.asp
Q. What is a HERS II Rating and how do I find a HERS II Rater?
California Whole-House Home Energy Ratings (HERS II) regulations are provided by the California Energy Commission. The HERS regulations establish a systematic process for the delivery of whole-house home energy ratings that provide California homeowners and home buyers with information about the energy efficiency of the homes they live in or homes they are considering for purchase. The ratings also provide evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of options to achieve greater energy efficiency in those homes. The intent of the City regulation is to provide the owner with the option to make informed home improvement decisions as part of their renovation work that will improve the energy performance of the home.
A HERS II Certified Rater also known as a “whole house rater” must be hired to perform the rating. A list of Whole House Raters is provided by the certifying organization CALCERTS. Go to the following website and search by “all raters” by county “Santa Clara”: https://www.calcerts.com/Rater_Directory_new.cfm
California Energy Commission HERS II Regulations & Resources: http://www.energy.ca.gov/HERS/index.html
Q. What is a rebuild?
Rebuild means any remodeled building or structure where the remodel includes exposure of insulation, or the removal of exterior sheathing on 25% or more of the exterior walls for a residential project, and 50% of more of the exterior walls for a nonresidential project.
Q. What salvage companies and/or recycling facilities have been approved by the City to accept construction and demolition debris?
Approved Facilities List
Q. If I choose to use LEED instead of CALGreen what version am I required to use?
A nonresidential project is required to use the version of LEED in effect at the time of registration with the Green Building Certification Institute. If the project is seeking verification by the City, the project is required to use the version of LEED in effect at the time of application for building permit.
Q. What is commissioning and how can I develop a commissioning plan and/or report?
Commissioning is required for certain types of buildings depending on the project type and rating system outlined above. Building commissioning is the process of ensuring that systems are designed, installed, functionally tested and capable of being operated and maintained according to the owner's operational needs. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, commissioning assists in the delivery of a project that provides a safe and healthful facility; optimizes energy use; reduces operating costs; ensures adequate O&M staff orientation and training; and improves installed building systems documentation. The California Commissioning Collaborative (CCC) is one of the best resources for the practice of commissioning. The CCC offers tools for selecting a qualified commissioning agent as well as a list of businesses offering commissioning services. In addition, the CCC offers examples and templates of commissioning plans and reports. Visit: http://www.cacx.org/index.html
Q. What standards apply to mixed use projects?
Apply the appropriate rating system to the portion of the mixed use project that it applies to. For example, a mixed use project of 10,000 sf of commercial space, and 4 condo units, should utilize CALGreen for the commercial space and the GreenPoint Rated rating system for the condo units. It is recommended for you to discuss your project type with the City Sustainability Planner.
Q. If a green building project shows higher performance, via more points on the GreenPoint Rated or CALGreen checklist, than is required by the City at the time of permit issuance, but does not meet the higher target after construction, will the applicant be penalized?
The City will only enforce and penalize applicants who after construction fall below the minimum green building level required in the City Green Building Ordinance. Said another way, if at the time the project is issued its permit the applicant is targeting above the minimum level required, and then during construction falls below that target, the applicant WILL NOT be penalized so long as they have not dropped below the minimum amount required in the City Green Building Ordinance. For example, a 2,550 square foot home is required to claim a minimum of 70 points using the GreenPoint Rated system under the Green Building Ordinance. If at the time of permit issuance the project is claiming 100, but then after construction only has 80, the project will not be penalized because it is above the minimum 70 points required. A project may even change the points claimed during construction so long as they still meet the minimum and are able to certify those points through GBCI, BIG or the City. The City encourages projects to go above its required minimum and does not penalize, but congratulates them for any achievement above what is required.
Q. What if I want to use an alterntative compliance method?
The City is willing to consider alternative methods of compliance such as other rating systems or building codes so long as they are deemed equivalent in spirit and stringency to the rating system, code or program referenced. The applicant must work with the City Sustainability Planner to ensure equivalency and compliance documentation acceptability.
Green Building Fees
On August 15, 2009, and as revised with every fiscal year thereafter, green building fees took effect for projects covered by the City's Green Building Program. The fees are collected at the time of building permit issuance. The fees are essential to providing review and support for the Green Building Program, which covers review and enforcement of the City's green building, construction and demolition debris recycling, and energy and eater efficiency requirements. The fees vary by project type and can be viewed by clicking here.
"The best green strategies achieve multiple objectives with a single solution. The earlier you decide to build green, the more opportunities you'll have to maximize the synergies in your building's design and performance." --NRDC
Green strategies can include:
- Choosing a Sustainable Site.
- Maximizing Water Efficiency.
- Saving Energy.
- Efficiently Using Resources.
- Protecting Indoor Air Quality.
There are hundreds of online resources for green building. Those listed below are specifically referenced in City regulation.
Build It Green, GreenPoint Rated Program - Utilize this link to download green building checklists for residential projects and find local GreenPoint Raters.
EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager - Utilize this link to rate the energy performance of an existing commercial building.
California HERS and HERS II - Utilize this link to learn more about HERS (Home Energy Rating System) testing requirements.
CALCERTS & CHEERS - Utilize these links to find local HERS Raters and to register projects.
US Green Building Council, LEED Rating System - Utilize this link if you plan to use LEED as an alternative to CALGreen for commercial projects.
Last Updated: Dec 31, 2012