Resources, Education, Sustainability in California

email: info@ab32.org

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"Green initiatives"

"Green initiatives" simplified

AB32; Global Warming Solutions Act

AB32 establishes the first-in-the-world comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to achieve real, quantifiable, cost-effective reductions of greenhouse gases (GHG). The Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006, commonly referred to as AB 32, is intended to reduce and eventually cap statewide emissions of greenhouse gases.  Such emissions are to be reduced to 2000 levels by 2010, to 1990 levels by 2020, and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.  The California Air Resources Board is the State's lead air pollution control agency, which is assigned primary responsibility for coordinating development of those measures. This year, CARB plans to issue for public review and comment a document referred to as a Scoping Plan, which will outline the range of emission reduction measures necessary to achieve the statutory mandate. All
major sectors of the California economy will be impacted, with changes likely in store for most Californians.

January 1, 2009: Adoption of what is referred to as a Scoping Plan, which will identify the complete range of measures proposed for implementation to achieve the mandated emission reductions. Health & S C §38561. These measures can include direct emission reduction measures, market-based compliance mechanisms, alternative compliance mechanisms, monetary and nonmonetary incentives, and other appropriate actions.

Refer back for updates on the Scoping Plan and further developments regarding AB32.

For brief introduction to AB32, click here: http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/factsheets/ab32factsheet.pdf

For a timeline of AB32 actions, click here:

For the text of AB32 legislation, click here: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/05-06/bill/asm/ab_0001-0050/ab_32_bill_20060927_chaptered.pdf

NEW AB 1103 – Building Energy Disclosures

As of January 1, 2010, all commercial building owners will be required to disclose Energy Star Portfolio Manager benchmarking data on energy consumption and usage within their buildings to all prospective buyers, tenants and lenders.  (AB 1103, Chapter 533, 2007; California Public Resources Code Section 25402.10).  In enacting this law, the Legislature found that mandatory disclosure of benchmarking data is expected to foster green building by "… motivat[ing] building operators to take actions to improve the building's energy profile and help to justify financial investments."

NEW SB 97– Greenhouse Gasses Considered in CEQA Documentation

California has enacted legislation to impose greenhouse gas considerations in environmental reviews under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  CEQA requires state and local agencies to determine if a project subject to discretionary approval actions may have potentially significant adverse environmental impacts, and if so, whether mitigation measures may be adopted to reduce such impact.  The Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) coordinates state level review of environmental documents pursuant to CEQA and is responsible for updating CEQA guidelines.  The Governor recently signed Senate Bill 97 (Chapter 185, 2007) which requires OPR to develop CEQA guidelines "for the mitigation of GHG emissions or the effects of GHG emissions" by July 1, 2009, thus solidifying that real estate developers will need to address greenhouse gas considerations in their CEQA documentation. 

NEW 2008 Title 24 – Building Energy Efficiency Standards

Title 24 Energy Efficiency Standards govern residential and commercial construction, enacted in response to a legislative mandate to reduce California's energy consumption. New construction is subject to Title 24 standards pursuant to the 2005 Standards currently in effect. New standards are being implemented to become effective this year (2008) to include tighter controls on energy efficiency in California.

Click here for state agency combined green building standards proposed for publication in the 2007 California Green Building Standards Code, CCR, Title 24, Part 11:  http://www.documents.dgs.ca.gov/bsc/prpsd_chngs/documents/2007/combined_green_et_45day.pdf

For information regarding compliance with Title 24 for Commercial projects, click here: http://www.energy.ca.gov/title24/2005standards/nonresidential_manual.html

For information regarding compliance with Title 24 for Residential projects, click here: http://www.energy.ca.gov/title24/2005standards/residential_manual.html

For the text of the NEW (proposed) 2008 Title 24 – Building Energy Efficiency Standards, click here: http://www.energy.ca.gov/title24/2008standards/rulemaking/documents/index.html

AB 1103 (2007) requires utilities (gas and electric) to maintain, as of January 1, 2009, records of energy consumption of all non-residentail buildings in a format compatible with ENERGYSTAR.

Local Initiatives

For a list of local "green building" initiatives by City, click here:  http://ag.ca.gov/globalwarming/pdf/green_building.pdf

For a list of local initiatives applicable to energy, click here:

San Francisco Initiatives

LEED (Gold) project receive priority permit processing (Environmental Review and Building Permit), which can reduce permitting time from 9 months to as fast as 1 month.

New (proposed) Commercial Office Ordinance.  

The Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) has openly challenged the Ordinance, stating that the legislation would "impose a considerable cost on San Francisco's economy", and that approximately 57% of the city's construction industry would experience higher costs as a result of the Ordinance.  The OEA cited that construction costs would increase, for example, by as much as 5% City-wide in order to achieve "LEED Gold" standards.  As a result, the OEA opines that the City's economy would be impacted by: 

+  reduction in construction projects
+  higher rents
higher selling prices
less spending
reduced incomes

Summary of Ordinance:

The City and County of San Francisco, Mayor Newsom is seeking to enact legislation that would require green building standards on seven types of construction projects, as follows: 

Type of Construction


Green Building Requirement


New high-rise residential buildings (over 75ft high) 


LEED Certified standards in 2008

LEED Silver standards in 2010


New mid-rise residential buildings (under 75ft high, 5 or more units)



25 GreenPoints in 2009

50 GreenPoints in 2010

75 GreenPoints in 2011


New small residential buildings (1-4 units)


25 GreenPoints in 2009 

50 GreenPoints in 2010

75 GreenPoints in 2011


New high-rise commercial buildings  (over 75ft high or more than 25,000 sq.ft.)



LEED Certified standards in 2008

LEED Silver standards in 2009

LEED Gold standards in 2012


New mid-rise commercial buildings (under 75ft high and between 5,000 sq.ft. and 25,000 sq.ft.)


7 specific LEED Credits in 2011 


Large commercial interior renovations (over 25,000 sq.ft.) 


LEED Certified standards in 2008

LEED Silver standards in 2009

LEED Gold standards in 2012


Major alterations (25,000 sq.ft. with major structural modifications)



LEED Certified standards in 2008 

LEED Silver standards in 2009

LEED Gold standards in 2012


[Source:  Mayor's Green Building Requirements: Economic Impact Report), dated May 21, 2008, issued by the City and County of San Francisco, Office of Economic Analysis]

 [Mayor's Task Force on Green Building:  http://www.sfenvironment.org/downloads/library/gbtfrrreleasev1.3.pdf ]

  San Francisco has also required that all city-owned building projects (new construction and major renovations over 5,000 square feet) achieve LEED Silver standards (See http://www.sfenvironment.org/downloads/library/rebordinance.pdf). 

The City also offers expedited permit review in the Planning Department, Department of Building Inspection, and Department of Public for developers constructing to LEED Gold standards.  (See http://www.sfenvironment.org/downloads/library/prioritypermitting.pdf).

 For a list of San Francisco Green Building initiatives, click here: http://www.sfenvironment.org/our_programs/topics.html?ssi=8&ti=19#Legislation%20&%20Initiatives


    Similarly, the City of Los Angeles recently adopted a green building ordinance that requires LEED Certification standards for five types of construction projects:

    Similarly, the City of Los Angeles recently adopted a green building ordinance that requires LEED Certification standards for five types of construction projects:

         1.         New non-residential buildings 50,000 square feet or more

         2.         Mixed use or residential buildings 50,000 square feet or more in excess of six stories

         3.         Mixed use or residential buildings 50,000 square feet or more with six or less stories and at least 50 dwelling units

         4.         Alteration or rehabilitation of 50,000 square feet or more in existing non-residential buildings for which construction costs exceed 50% of the replacement cost of the existing building

         5.         Alteration of at least 50 dwelling units in an existing mixed use or residential building which has at least 50,000 square feet, for which construction costs exceed 50% of the replacement cost of the existing building


In addition, the City provides expedited processing through the Planning and Public Works Departments for developments that voluntarily commit to LEED Silver standards.

Other local governments have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, green building ordinances, including San Diego, Santa Monica and Rohnert Park.  Additional municipalities are expected to follow as public demand increases for green buildings, and as municipalities strive to meet their commitment to reduce greenhouse gases to below 1990 levels. 


Through Governor Schwarzenegger's Green Building Initiative, California is leading by example in improving the energy and environmental performance of existing and new state-owned buildings, by pursuing LEED-New Construction certification for its major construction and renovation projects under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council. [See


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