Oct 18, 2010 11:00 AM  PST

Cupertino unveils new green ordinance for construction

The city of Cupertino is gearing up for a new ordinance that could require structures citywide to be built with green living in mind. A proposed "green building" ordinance is intended to guide the design, construction, retrofit, operation and demolition of new and existing commercial and residential buildings undergoing major renovations in the city.

Over the past year, Cupertino city staff has been working with the community to craft the ordinance using a set of policy recommendations by the Santa Clara County Cities Association's Green Building Collaborative as a starting point.

In June and July the city collected feedback from throughout the community, including residents, green building experts and developers, as to what they would like to see in a city ordinance. The De Anza College environmental studies department offered input and hosted one of the meetings. More than 80 participants attended the focus group discussions and offered suggestions and comments to the city.

City staff is working with Global Green, a green building consultant, to finalize a Green Building Ordinance that incorporates and addresses comments and suggestions provided by the participants. Global Green has also been assisting the city through facilitation of the focus group meetings and to develop a draft ordinance.

The public can now get its first look at the proposed ordinance, which the city has authorized $25,000 to complete. A draft of the ordinance was shown to the public and to the planning commission for the first time on Oct. 12. The proposed ordinance is slightly more stringent than the Cities Association recommendations, which suggest green building standards for different size and types of building.

A big part of the city's new ordinance enables residents to earn points for every "green" measure, such as flourescent lights and dual-pane windows, included in their design plans. If the plan exceeds a certain number of points, the resident will not have to apply for a special permit to have a special inspector certify the project. The intent is to make the process easier for residents and builders, according to city staff.

Certifications such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Build It Green (BIG) rating systems are being used as guidelines for the mandates. LEED is a national consensus rating system for builders looking for their projects to be designated more sustainable and efficient. BIG is a California community program that rates homes and remodels on a point system as well.

The requirements aim to be in line with the new state green building code called CALGreen, which sets the threshold of building codes at a higher level by requiring development projects to incorporate green building practices. CALGreen is a statewide mandate and takes effect on Jan. 1, and will require all new residential projects of three floors or fewer and all non-residential projects to comply with the code.

City staff wants the new ordinance to become effective six months from the date of its approval. Affected developments could include residential home construction of more than five homes, residential renovations and additions that encompass more than 50 percent of its floor area, all private commercial construction, mixed use developments and large-scale commercial renovations.

The city council could review and make a final vote on the ordinance in December pending the completion of a planning commission recommendation.

For more information about the city's green building ordinance, upcoming meetings and more details about the Santa Clara County Cities Association's recommendations, visit www.cupertino.org/greenbuilding.



For additional information on this article, please contact:
 
Matt Wilson
 
Source: San Jose Mercury  
http://www.mercurynews.com

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