California is on the cutting-edge of progressive environmental law and policies. With increasing federal focus on energy issues, California is positioned to see benefits from any federal money invested in the green economy and from the state's green building code, which the California Building Standards Commission adopted in July 2008; it is expected to be incorporated into the 2010-2011 building code cycle. In fact, California is the first to pass a statewide "green" building code.
The new California Green Building Standards Code goes well beyond the current building standards. This code aims to yield significant improvements in water usage for both commercial and residential plumbing fixtures and targets a 50 percent landscape water conservation reduction. The code pushes builders to reduce energy use by 15 percent more than the current standards. California's new building standards will result in increased water and energy savings through a combination of more efficient appliances, landscapes, and building design and operation. The code also encourages the use of recycled materials in carpets and building materials, and identifies various site improvements, including parking for hybrid vehicles and better stormwater plans.
Moving forward after 2010, the California Green Building Standards Code will be updated on an annual basis to ensure that the latest technology and methods of construction have been incorporated in order to always maintain a high level of standards. It may cost companies more to build facilities in the short term, but the long-term payoff of building and operating green facilities has been proven time and again. Companies that locate in California can benefit from the state's eco-friendly government policies.
"California is developing buildings that have already proven to have value-added in the market," says Linda Bernhardt, an attorney at Loeb & Loeb, a multiservice national law firm with offices in Los Angeles. "LEED certified buildings and developments are more than just a trend, but will likely become industry norm in the years to come as the trend moves continuously toward sustainable development. As such, investment in California facilities means return on investment down the line, as the real estate market continues to value green buildings at a premium."