San Francisco’s new green building ordinance went into effect on November 3, 2008. Almost every new building in the City—from the single-family home to the high-rise tower—is affected by this legislation. Projects required to comply include:
- New construction, Group R (residential) occupancy buildings;
- New construction, commercial buildings of Group B (business) or M (mercantile) occupancies that are 5,000 gross square feet or more;
- New first-time build-outs of commercial interiors that are 25,000 gross square feet or more in buildings of Group B or M occupancies; and
- Major alterations that are 25,000 gross square feet or more in existing buildings of Group B, M or R occupancies where “interior finishes are removed and significant upgrades to structural and mechanical, electrical and/or plumbing systems are proposed.”
The method of compliance with the new ordinance depends on the project:
- Non-high-rise residential projects will have to be certified in accordance with the Build It Green “GreenPoint” system or meet an equivalent standard.
- All commercial buildings will have to be certified in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”) system or meet an equivalent standard.
- High-rise residential projects can choose whether to use the LEED system, or a combination of GreenPoint system and LEED prerequisites.
Compliance requirements are phased in gradually through 2012. All projects must also meet other requirements in addition to those of the GreenPoint and LEED systems. The ordinance will bring new challenges to all projects.