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The buzz on green building

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It seems to be everywhere. The “greening” of America has taken many twists and turns over the past five years, starting with commercial buildings, then creeping into residential as a marketing advantage, and soon thereafter becoming a government mandate and topping agendas for international accords.

Many state and local agencies have adopted green building requirements for new construction that are primarily focused on green house gas (GHG) and carbon impacts -- regulations that add time and expense to the production of any new home.

Yet, while there are hundreds of pieces of legislation at the state and federal levels that govern green building in one way or another, Assembly Bill 32 (the Global Warming Solutions Act) and the related Senate Bill 375 (the Connecting Housing, Transportation, Land Use & GHG law) have become the most relevant for California. These two laws have a significant impact on the construction industry and should be studied carefully. AB 32 requires California manufacturers and businesses (including construction) to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Change is in the air

On May 1, The California Jobs Initiative Campaign, the entity leading the push to suspend California's landmark greenhouse gas emissions law, submitted voter signatures to place the issue before voters. It claims that AB 32 negatively impacts California’s economy through the loss of jobs and cost to comply. If it qualifies for the ballot, there is sure to be a very public fight from both sides.

Mark your calendars

Locally, every city will have to enforce new green building codes passed in January. Make sure you know the important dates that affect you. (Visit biasandiego.org to view the California Green Building Standards Code administrative timeline.)

Other interesting green build facts

According to McGraw Hill Construction, green building has actually grown in spite of the market meltdown. In its “2009 Green Building Outlook,” the company noted that the value of green construction increased from $10 billion in 2005 to almost $50 billion in 2008. The study also suggested that by 2013, green construction could be valued at nearly $150 billion.

Of the 13 million-plus residential structures that exist in California today, approximately 9 million, or a little over 70 percent, were constructed before the implementation of Part 6 of Title 24 of the California Energy Code.

Winckel is president and CEO of BIA of San Diego County.

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