Green Building

ARTICLE -- Green Building
By Kenneth S. Grossbart
Abdulaziz, Grossbart & Rudman


People in the construction industry often use terms like "green" or "LEED" construction as though everyone knows what that means. We thought an overview may help our readers as the trend is for more "green" or "LEED" construction. Sustainability, otherwise known as "green" building, is the practice of designing, constructing, operating, maintaining, and removing buildings in ways that conserve natural resources and reduce their impact on climate change. In other words, reducing the environmental footprint with respect to that building.


Given the state of our environment, it makes sense that governments have enacted voluntary and mandatory green building standards. Federally, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which began in 1998, is a rating system for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods. Building under LEED guidelines can lower operating costs and increase asset value of the building, conserve energy, water and other valuable resources, be healthier for the occupants, and also qualify for money-saving incentives, like tax rebates and zoning allowances, not to mention be better for the environment all around.


Programs like LEED paved the way for the California Green Building Standards Code (CalGreen), which is the first statewide "green" building code in the United States. CalGreen started in 2008 as a voluntary program to encourage building practices to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. As of January 1, 2011, many of the voluntary regulations became mandatory, placing limits on substances that could harm the environment, encouraging natural resources conservation and efficiently using materials and equipment. There are also two tiers of additional voluntary standards, which will most likely become future regulations. Many of the LEED and CalGreen requirements overlap, so it is easy to comply with CalGreen and still meet the LEED requirements as well.


The regulations imposed by CalGreen are to be enforced by local governments. However, the local governments may also enact more stringent requirements based on local climatic, geological or topographical conditions. Where that to apply to your project, make sure that you not only comply with the CalGreen regulations but that you abide by the local rules as well.


Since the California Building Standards Code is updated every three years, there should be new requirements for CalGreen that will be effective January 1, 2014. Although any permit that was obtained before January 1, 2014, will not have to comply with the new regulations, if you are not familiar with the new regulations, it is imperative that you familiarize yourself before the New Year. You can find additional information from your local building department, your construction trade association, or the California Building Standards Commission at In addition to just obtaining the new regulations, there are many entities holding seminars and webinars to make sure that those in the construction industry are aware of the new regulations.

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Kenneth Grossbart is recognized as one of the foremost authorities in California construction law. Over the past 30 years, Ken has become a respected speaker on Mechanic's Liens and other construction related issues. Abdulaziz, Grossbart & Rudman provides this information as a service to its friends & clients and it does not establish an attorney-client relationship with the reader. This document is of a general nature and is not a substitute for legal advice. Since laws change frequently, contact an attorney before using this information. Ken Grossbart can be reached at Abdulaziz, Grossbart & Rudman: (818) 760-2000 or by E-Mail at, or at

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