California Policy Corner: Green building advances from San Diego to Sacramento | U.S. Green Building Council
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See the latest in California green building news.

It’s been another busy month for green building in California. USGBC communities from San Diego to Sacramento have been working through policy, events and projects to support our state’s position as a global environmental leader.

As we look to our friends and colleagues on the Island of Hawaii during the devastation and confusion of an emerging eruption, the L.A. Times reminds us of our own risks in California, including eight volcanoes that are at the highest threat of eruption.

Add to this California’s mounting impacts from a changing climate, and our perpetual earthquake risks, and it becomes clear that our evolving and growing portfolio of work on building and community resilience has never been more important. USGBC, the National League of Cities and the Urban Land Institute will be hosting the fourth Resilient Cities Summit this summer—this time, in southern California. Resiliency of our building stock and social capital continues to be an important focus of our work.

Download the 2017 Resilient Cities report.

In the capital city

We invite you to join us at our annual Green Hard Hat Awards event in Sacramento on June 28 to offer thanks to another group of champions for green building and sustainability. This year, we are honored to welcome the following individuals into our USGBC hall of fame for California green building policy and advocacy:

  • Mary Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board
  • Darrell Steinberg, Mayor, City of Sacramento
  • Assemblymember Rob Bonta
  • Dan Carol, Senior Advisor, Infrastructure and Energy, Office of Governor Jerry Brown
  • Dave Walls, Executive Director, Sustainability Programs, International Code Council

Register for the Green Hard Hat Awards.

USGBC’s work with San Francisco Assemblymember Phil Ting on sustainability leadership standards for public lands and landscapes continues. AB 2475 has passed the Assembly and is awaiting committee referral in the Senate. The bill was amended to smaller scope and impact in the Assembly; however, we are eager to strengthen the bill in the Senate next month.

Also, California continues to prove that decreased greenhouse gas emissions and increased economic growth is a feasible and proven value proposition. In May, the state took another bold step on this path by becoming the first state to require solar photovoltaic systems to be installed on all new homes.

In supporting these ambitious goals, we have an opportunity to develop and promote additional social benefits, such as equal access to green buildings and healthy communities, education for all and workforce development that can be achieved through design, collaboration and programming strategies.

In the sunny south

While our collaborative USGBC team delivers progress and recognition of state policy in Sacramento, our colleagues at USGBC Los Angeles Chapter hosted another successful Municipal Green Building Conference and Expo (MGBCE) at the LEED Platinum SoCal Gas Energy Resource Center. The event theme was "Innovative Cities Leading the Way to a Sustainable Future," and more than 300 people were in attendance.

With its abundant sunshine, San Diego is leading the way through its city and county government and moving ahead with projects that achieve zero net energy status (ZNE) and promote public engagement. USGBC San Diego Chapter is excited to be a part of some of these efforts.

The City of San Diego is exploring a model approach to ZNE retrofits in its three public libraries. The project brings together partners such as the City of San Diego, the Center for Sustainable Energy and the USGBC San Diego Chapter, among others. Maximizing building performance and integrating sustainable technologies at the three libraries is projected to reduce overall energy consumption by 932,124 kWh and to offset 531,766 pounds of CO2 equivalent annually.

The County of San Diego has recently achieved both LEED Gold and Zero Energy Certified status for its Alpine Branch Library. The project is a part of the County’s Strategic Energy Plan, which relies on energy efficiency, renewables and continuous commissioning to achieve a ~800M kBtu energy use reduction by 2030. The county’s plan includes an extensive community energy component to engage the public and elevate San Diego’s commitment to sustainability in public, private and civic areas.

By focusing on public facilities first, both the county and the city projects engage the local community through outreach and educational components that add a social dimension to project benefits. For example, the City of San Diego’s project will include interactive exhibits and tours where the public can learn about the importance of energy efficiency and ZNE and can gain ideas on how to apply this knowledge in their homes.

USGBC San Diego is excited to partner with the Civic Spark Fellow Program to support this project and cultivate California’s future environmental leaders.

Save the date

Learn more about San Diego’s ZNE, water and waste strategies at the San Diego Green Building Conference and Expo, hosted by the USGBC San Diego Chapter on Fri., September 20, at the LEED Platinum San Diego Gas and Electric Energy Innovation Center. More information and registration details will be released in June on our website and Facebook page.