Happy New Year All!
California's new CalGreen Building Code goes into effect today.
Our building code is now the greenest and most stringent in the US.
The new code requires builders and remodelers to install plumbing that cuts indoor water use, divert 50 percent of construction waste from landfills to recycling, use low-pollutant adhesives. It mandates the inspection of energy systems by local officials to ensure that heaters, air conditioners and other mechanical equipment in nonresidential buildings are working efficiently. And it will allow local jurisdictions, such as San Francisco, to retain their stricter existing green building standards, or adopt more stringent versions of the state code if they choose.
Most of the new regulations apply to commercial buildings and schools, hospitals, etc. But some of the new code means VOLUNTARY (until 2012) changes on the residential front as well. Here are the highlights:
SECTION 4.303 INDOOR WATER USE
4.303.1 Twenty percent savings. A schedule of plumbing fixtures and fixture fittings that will reduce the overall use of potable water within the building by at least 20 percent shall be provided. The reduction shall be based on the maximum allowable water use per plumbing fixture and fitting as required by the California Building Standards Code.
The BIG change here is that homeowners will no longer be able to have multiple showerheads installed in a bathroom. This is accomplished by limiting the gallons per minute from all sources to the flow of a typical low-flow showerhead. Thus, there is no limit on the number of fixtures, but the flow would be so low divided among them that you might as well forget about your dream luxury shower.
[CORRECTION 01/03/11] Joanne Cannell called me this morning to correct me on my interpretation here. She called the SF Building Dept and spoke to a plumbing inspector, because she has a current project wherein she has designed a TWO PERSON shower with separate controls for each occupant. The inspector had to check with someone else on this before giving his response, so this may be open to interpretation by each building department. He said separate showerheads on separate controls in a two-person sized shower was OK. I assume this would be OK simply because a tub and shower in the same bathroom are also OK. I also assume that multiple separate controls for multiple showerheads in a single person shower would NOT be OK.
SECTION 4.408 CONSTRUCTION WASTE REDUCTION, DISPOSAL AND RECYCLING
4.408.1 Construction waste reduction of at least 50 percent. Recycle and/or salvage for reuse a minimum of 50 percent of the nonhazardous construction and demolition debris, or meet a local construction and demolition waste management ordinance, whichever is more stringent.
Remodeling contractors and builders are going to have to be a lot more thoughtful about what they do with the "leftovers" from remodeling or building. The days of simply throwing everything into a dumpster are over.
The idea is to re-use as much material as possible (such as 2x4 studs, for instance) instead of throwing it away and bringing in new.
Builders and remodelers should also carefully plan their use of the materials they do buy new to minimize waste as much as possible. I expect as the reduction in waste flowing to landfills kicks in the landfills will also be charging a LOT more to dump construction waste (just a guess).
SECTION 4.504 POLLUTANT CONTROL
4.504.1 Covering of duct openings and protection of mechanical equipment during construction. At the time of rough installation or during storage on the construction site and until final startup of the heating and cooling equipment, all duct and other related air distribution component openings shall be covered with tape, plastic, sheetmetal or other methods acceptable to the enforcing agency to reduce the amount of dust or debris which may collect in the system.
TABLE 4.504.1 ADHESIVE VOC LIMIT1,2
Less Water and Less Exempt Compounds in Grams per Liter
Rules have gotten tighter on VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions from materials like construction adhesives. This is a good thing, especially for those of us who are sensitive to VOCs. The rules also apply to VOCs used in manufacturing things like plywood and particleboard to make them less toxic to home inhabitants.
SECTION 4.506 INDOOR AIR QUALITY AND EXHAUST
4.506.1 Bathroom exhaust fans. Mechanical exhaust fans which exhaust directly from bathrooms shall comply with the following:
1. Fans shall be ENERGY STAR compliant and be ducted to terminate outside the building.
2. Unless functioning as a component of a whole house ventilation system, fans must be controlled by a humidistat which shall be readily accessible.
Humidistat controls shall be capable of adjustment between a relative humidity range of 50 to 80 percent.
Note: For the purposes of this section, a bathroom is a room which contains a bathtub, shower or tub/shower combination.
A bathroom fan with a humidistat will automatically turn on when it senses a certain level of moisture in the air of the bathroom. It will also continue to run until the moisture is cleared from the room.
There are other elements of the Residential Code that apply, but are less likely to apply to kitchens and baths, so I have left them out. If you go to the Code site to look at all of them you will also notice that there are many sections that are incomplete and "reserved". Obviously CalGreen is expected to grow over time, just like our Title 24 Energy Codes have grown over the 20-odd years since they were first introduced.
We can all be proud to be leading the nation on our way to energy independence and (hopefully, in time) some global cooling for a change.
Kitschy Kitchens is a blog where I critique the worst of the worst in kitchens. Poor design, an assault on the eyes, wrong colors, wrong materials; they all can be found there. Take an amusing detour to discover what you DON'T want in a kitchen.
Saturday, January 01, 2011
Happy New Year All!