Building a greener rule of thumb

CITY HALL — The City Council this week was split on adding to what's already called for in new state green building requirements.

The new standards — dubbed CAL Green — will require new buildings to recycle construction waste, reduce polluting materials and increase energy and water efficiency.

The state requirements apply to residential and non-residential development, including civic, commercial, retail, office and medical buildings.

But some council members have been pushing for more, contending cities should see the state requirements as a baseline.

"In my mind, that's the minimum, and cities should be doing more," Councilwoman Laura Friedman said Tuesday during a hearing on adding more city regulations to the mix.

Up for consideration was mandating that all new buildings be ready for solar equipment and mandating higher efficiency for plumbing features and gas-fired water heaters.

But others on the dais said they were hesitant to add additional rules, given that the new state rules went into effect just days ago.

The City Council had previously held off on establishing a citywide policy last year, instead creating a community task force made up of local stakeholders to wrestle with the issue while city officials awaited the release of the CAL Green codes.

"It is a mistake to just jump on top and not fully assess the impact of CAL Green efforts," said Mayor Ara Najarian.

Councilmen Dave Weaver and John Drayman also said they were unlikely to support adding any regulations that would put an extra financial burden on the average homeowner, though Weaver said he would support a requirement that homes be solar-ready.

"They ought to allow for solar in the future," he said. "That is the wave of the future."

Several residents also urged the City Council to be restrained.

Stuart Byles, a resident and local contractor, said the regulations were "a load on the homeowner who is doing these particular things."

The City Council postponed any action on the additions and instead moved to schedule a study session on the topic.

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