Green Home Requirement in San Mateo County

jasper_external.jpgHere in the Bay Area, it’s not just Berkeley who’s showing Green Big Brother mentality. Green home building will be required from all new homes built in the unincorporated region of San Mateo County. The county supes this week voted to add sweeping green regulations to green construction requirements to take effect later this year.

The new regulations will cover homes and industrial projects. The Green commercial and industrial buildings can pass under the LEED system while residential properties can be gauged under Build it Green’s “Green Point Rated” system. Green Point Rated, a residential, Green rating system created by the Berkeley-based non profit, uses various point categories to achieve certification. For example, installing a range of Energy Star appliances is worth nine points and using low VOC paints and wood-coatings can garner six points. Homeowners can combine various point categories, as long as they add up to the magic 50 point total.

To be fair, this program does have its costs. Homeowners will have to pay a specialized green building inspector to verify their project for the county which will set them back about $800 to $1000, and for commercial owners it will cost from $2500 to $3500. Applicants will also be required to post a $5,000 bond prior to receiving a building permit, which will be released when the 50 points are verified.

Although I like this program, it does have shortcomings, however, such as not affording homeowners the incentive to obtain more than 50 points. Many people find the same issues with LEED rating system. People may think, “Why should I try for 60 points if it’s just going to cost more?” Home and commercial building owners may try for more points without considering the up-front cost, but it wouldn’t be a bad scenario if the County of San Mateo offered further incentives for higher points.


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  • I like it that cities and other government bodies are providing incentives for builders and citizens to make green choices. However, I would prefer to see a break in property taxes (in at least the first year). If you’re going to use the stick, why not throw a carrot in too?

  • I like it that cities and other government bodies are providing incentives for builders and citizens to make green choices. However, I would prefer to see a break in property taxes (in at least the first year). If you’re going to use the stick, why not throw a carrot in too?

  • I fully agree with Leah. This issue is so important that each city should make it so attractive (*substantial* break on property taxes for several years) to make “green” choices an EASY choice!

  • I fully agree with Leah. This issue is so important that each city should make it so attractive (*substantial* break on property taxes for several years) to make “green” choices an EASY choice!

  • Scott Denny

    The LEED system is now available for residential construction.
    See http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=147

  • Scott Denny

    The LEED system is now available for residential construction.
    See http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=147

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