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City Reviewing Green Building Requirements:

Concern about the environment as well as legislative changes in Sacramento to new building construction requirements have prompted the City of Santa Monica to look into updating its green building ordinance.

A meeting was held on December 7 so the community could learn about and give input on the proposed changes to the green building ordinance. The changes will apply to new construction, substantial remodels and tenant improvements. The City’s Green Building Advisor, Brenden McEneaney, explained during his presentation that a green building is one that has “reduced fossil fuel energy use, is healthy,” has lower environmental impacts and has “a lower cost for ownership and maintenance.”

City green requirements apply to the type and amount of energy a building will consume, the materials that are used in its construction, the way waste is diverted during construction, and to how water is conserved inside the building and how water is conserved when used for landscaping. The City has also developed incentives for those who incorporate green building practices into their construction. They include an expedited plan check by the City of their construction plans, design consultation/resources and zoning bonuses.

Currently, green building measures are only applicable to new construction and substantial remodels on a cost basis. The proposed requirements will also apply to new construction. to new tenant improvements, and wll apply to substantial remodels on a square footage basis. A green building checklist is required now but not required under the proposed changes. Also being proposed is being 15 percent below California’s energy efficiency standards rather than the current 10 percent.

Other proposed changes include allowing exceptions to the requirement that solar heating be used for all pools and spas; requiring that all DHW exposed pipes must be insulated and having this requirement apply to retrofits; and having 70 percent of all construction and demolition waste be diverted, excluding inerts as opposed to the current 65 percent. Changes are also being proposed so the City’s requirements will be consistent with California’s Model Water ordinance.

There are also some new proposed requirements in areas that had no requirements before. One is to have low-rise residential buildings meet EnergyStar requirements. Others apply to water conservation and include standards for urinals and cooling towers.

Input from those in attendance included having better standards to insulate against noise in multi-unit dwellings, having properties evaluated for green requirements when they are sold, and having education for contractors and homeowners about the requirements.

The proposed changes will now be evaluated by the City Council. Further information can be found at smgreen.org.

Contact Hannah Heineman


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