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March 3, 2010 > Green building ordinance adopted

Green building ordinance adopted

By Shavon Walker

Union City Council adopted mandatory green building rules on February 23. Council introduced the ordinance at a public hearing on August 25, 2009. Not only does it establish green building rules for private sector development, it also creates requirements for public sector and public-private partnership projects. The new ordinance supersedes the Voluntary Green Building and Landscaping Practices in Private Development Projects Standards Policy Statement.

The new ordinance's standards are cost and energy effective and will help the city meet or exceed its energy-efficiency standards. This conclusion is based on the January 2009 report "Energy Cost Effectiveness Case Studies Using the 2008 Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards" which Stopwaste.org has adopted. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has commended Union City for its efforts.

A few changes were made since the ordinance's August introduction. Non-residential projects, less than 1,000 sq. ft., must submit a "Small Commercial Checklist" even though they are not required to implement the checklist's measures. This is an educational opportunity. Applicants no longer need to use covered products that exceed federal energy conservation standards. This change avoids a potential conflict with the federal National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) standards.

The CEC recommended language be changed so the ordinance shows compliance with the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards section of the California Building Code. The change shows the City's serious intent to use the standards as a minimum requirement.

The ordinance covers all new residential construction which includes additions and remodels that are greater than 500 sq. ft.

City staff also made recommendations. Applicants must comply with the green building rating system prevailing at the time their applications are approved. If a project is not subject to review, the applicable rating system is the most recent one in place when the building permit application is filed. Private landscaping projects must satisfy the Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance, which Council adopted on January 12, 2010.

There is no direct fiscal impact to the General Fund by amending the Municipal Code. However, the ordinance will slightly increase the cost of construction for public and private projects covered by it and take effect 30 days from adoption.

For more information, visit www.UnionCity.org

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