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California is setting an environmental example by being the first in the nation to adopt the mandatory Green Building Standards Code (CALGREEN), which aims to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, and water use to make California more energy efficient and environmentally responsible. CALGREEN, which goes into effect on January 1, 2011, requires that every new building constructed in the state reduce water consumption by 20 percent, divert 50 percent of construction waste from landfills, and install low pollutant-emitting materials.

The code also requires that nonresidential buildings using water indoors and outdoors must install separate water meters with moisture-sensing irrigation systems for larger landscape projects. Nonresidential buildings over 10,000 square feet will be subject to mandatory energy system inspections, including of heat and air conditioning equipment. According to estimates from the California Air Resources Board, the mandatory provisions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide equivalent) by 3 million metric tons by 2020. The code will benefit property owners whose facilities pass state building inspection, not just in the environmental sense but in the form of a CALGREEN compliant label that owners can procure without costly third-party certification programs.  Green Technology recently interviewed Dave Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) about CALGREEN. Read the interview here.