California Policy Corner: Big news for climate action and codes | U.S. Green Building Council
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See the latest in California policy news.

The state legislature’s July 21 recess created a crunch time for policymaking for much of June and July, during which USGBC worked hard to advance bills at the state level and promote our green building message. A major measure to pump billions of dollars into transportation upgrades, SB 1, consumed much of the legislature’s time in June. Now that the measure has passed, the California Transportation Commission is hosting public hearings on the implementation and allocation of funds.

Of course, some of the biggest news from this past month is that the state’s landmark cap-and-trade program has been given new life through a bill package that Gov. Jerry Brown signed last week. The ceremony for AB 398 took place on Treasure Island, a community that earned Platinum certification under the LEED v4 for Neighborhood Development: Plan rating system. USGBC also kicked off an article series on California cap and trade.

The last several weeks have also included ongoing advocacy in support of our nine priority bills mentioned in last month’s post. All but SB 740, related to on-site water reuse, are still active and will be considered after the recess, when we expect a major focus of the legislature will be on addressing the state’s urgent need to address housing affordability.

We paused in June to recognize two state officials who are making a difference through their outstanding leadership to advance our issues. We were honored to add Sen. Scott Wiener and CEC Commissioner Andrew McAllister to the Green Hard Hat Award honor roll.

CALGreen projects

Amid a flurry of exciting conversations and presentations at our GreenerBuilder conference this month, there was emphatic applause for the next step in our ongoing work on LEED and building codes. With the support of Wes Sullens, USGBC's Director of Codes Technical Development, USGBC President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam announced that new commercial projects built to California’s robust building codes are now pre-approved for significant streamlining of fundamental LEED Building Design and Construction (BD+C) requirements. Qualifying projects will be able use code compliance documentation in order to satisfy all LEED v4 BD+C prerequisites and earn 6 points.

After a report on barriers and opportunities for green codes in California was released in 2015, USGBC launched an effort to build off the statewide CALGreen code by streamlining the documentation of a handful of credits for projects in California. The current effort updates our past work to line up with LEED v4 and Title 24-2016, and will go further to reduce overlapping efforts to document green building compliance.

Upcoming advocacy events

August 4: Join the USGBC Los Angeles Chapter and the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge for the next in a series of workshops to help building owners comply with the city's new Existing Building Energy and Water Efficiency (EBEWE) Ordinance. The ordinance requires multifamily, commercial and government property owners served by the L.A. Department of Water and Power to benchmark, report on and improve energy and water performance.

September 22: Green building policy and advocacy is also on the agenda at the upcoming San Diego Green Building Conference and Expo.

September 2018: Mark your calendars for next year—Gov. Brown will be hosting a Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

Whether at a conference or in your everyday interactions, USGBC members are encouraged to help us share with others what we know from our experience: that green buildings, infrastructure and communities offer elegant and holistic solutions to many of California’s pressing challenges—from housing affordability to climate action to water conservation.

See more California events