San Francisco has long been known for progressive politics and innovation, in addition to sweeping views of the bay and hilly streets. Now, the much beloved city is close to passing the country's strictest green building codes, which would be another green feather in Mayor Gavin Newsom's cap, as well as source of civic pride.
As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the regulations winding their way through the halls of local government would require new large commercial buildings and residential high-rises to contain key eco-friendly features such as solar power, nontoxic paints and water-saving plumbing fixtures. Officials estimate that by 2012, the new green building codes could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60,000 tons and save 220,000 megawatt hours of power and 100 million gallons of drinking water.
If passed, the rules would be phased in gradually until 2012. Estimates are that developers may see initial costs rise as much as 5%, although that is expected to drop with time. According to the Chronicle, the gradual phase-in of the program has made it more palpable to the building industry.
So what are the rules? New residential high-rises taller than 75 feet, new commercial buildings larger than 5,000 square feet and renovations on buildings larger than 25,000 square feet would have to comply with the U.S. Green Building Council's rigorous Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, which were designed to be comprehensive measures of energy efficiency, water use and overall footprint.
All new residential construction would also have to comply with California's GreenPoint Rated system from Build It Green, which maintains its own independently verified criteria for green building. Learn more about various home green building labels here.
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