San Francisco Officials Move Green Building Codes Forward

San Francisco Officials Move Green Building Codes Forward

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., March 24, 2008 -- The green building movement in San Francisco got a boost last week when the city's Building Inspection Commission voted to pass strict green building codes onto the Board of Supervisors. Mayor Gavin Newsom has pledged to sign the regulations into law if the Board approves them, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The green building codes, which would be phased in over a number of years, would make new large commercial and residential construction comply with LEED standards. The regulations would apply to new residential high-rises over 75 feet, new commercial buildings over 5,000 square feet and renovations on buildings larger than 25,000 square feet. Other new residential construction would have to comply with the GreenPoint Rated standard.

The strictest parts of the green codes would not be implemented until 2012. By then the rules are expected to prevent 60,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, save 220,000 megawatt hours of power and prevent the use of 100 million gallons of water, the Chronicle reported.

The codes came out of a task force Newsom set up last year to study and develop green building proposals. "One of the best things about it is the fact that it's a gradual ordinance," said Ken Cleaveland, task force member and director of government and public affairs for the San Francisco Building Owners and Managers Association, according to the Chronicle. "When you set a goal and give the industry time to meet that goal, you have a far better chance of succeeding."

The codes incorporated a proposal from Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, who, though supportive of the regulations, is concerned they won't protect existing buildings and could lead developers to demolish buildings in order to replace them with greener alternatives. City officials reportedly crafted the codes with that concern partly in mind, ensuring there are no incentives to abandon existing buildings to create green ones.