As you probably already know, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the nation’s first statewide MANDATORY Green Building Standards Code — CALGreen (or CALGREEN depending on where you look) for short. It’s effective Jan. 1, 2011.
PROSOCO’s Regulatory Affairs Director Dwayne Fuhlhage has written the following report on how CALGreen affects users of PROSOCO products specifically, and construction professionals in general.
CALGreen: What does it mean?
by Dwayne Fuhlhage
Regulatory Affairs Director
California specifiers and builders are beginning to ask about CALGreen and what it means for concrete and masonry construction coatings and sealers. CALGreen is the common name for the California Green Building Standards Code. Formerly a voluntary standard, it was substantially modified and reissued as a statewide mandatory code for state-owned buildings, low-rise residential buildings, qualified historical buildings, general acute care hospitals, and public elementary and secondary schools effective January 1, 2011.
CALGreen represents a tremendous change in how green construction is done as it provides a code requirement for many of the building components and systems rated in the voluntary US Green Building Council LEED ratings systems. CALGreen’s reach extends outside California as it was used as a building block in the new International Green Construction Code (IGCC) by the International Code Council.
If you want to learn more about the thought process behind the creation of CALGreen, Green Technology magazine featured a very informative interview with Dave Walls, the executive director of the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC).
CALGreen contains a number of prescriptive mandatory and elective measures designed to improve building energy efficiency as well as reduce water usage and improve the working environment. The Environmental Quality sections (Division 4.5 and 5.5) prescribe usage of low emitting and reduced VOC content building materials including sealants, caulks, coatings and sealers. Unlike LEED standards and the first public version of the International Green Construction Code (IGCC), CALGreen’s limits cover both interior and exterior product applications.
The rules covering sealant and caulk VOC limits are well known to the industry. CALGreen incorporates by reference the South Coast Air Quality Management Disctrict (SCAQMD) Rule 1168 categories and limits. PROSOCO R-GUARD® branded air and water barrier products comply with this CALGreen requirement.
The rules for paints and coatings may cause specifier, manufacturer and user confusion. CALGreen incorporates by reference the new California Air Resource Board (CARB) 2007 Suggested Control Measure (SCM) categories and limits. In 2007, CARB performed a top to bottom review and rewrite of this model rule used by districts outside of the SCAQMD. Many categories were merged and renamed and the majority feature reduced VOC limits. The vast majority of PROSOCO’s current California-compliant products conform to the CALGreen requirement.
Our white paper LEED® Ratings System and PROSOCO’s Cleaners, Sealers & Coatings — Applying LEED to PROSOCO’s Exterior and Interior Use Products offers a reference chart matching PROSOCO products to the applicable LEED credit.
PROSOCO participated in the CARB 2007 SCM stakeholder process and was instrumental in the creation of new categories for high-performance silane and siloxane sealers and specialty stone consolidants. Other than these niche categories and the unchanged Low Solids category, the limit for the new Concrete/Masonry Sealers category drops to 100 g/L.
The CARB 2007 SCM is less clear on how it covers fluid applied air and water resistive coatings. This class of coating was an emerging technology as CARB began its data gathering and rulemaking process in 2005. As a result, there is no clear category that fits a fluid applied coating designed and labeled for application over multiple substrates including masonry block, plywood sheathing and other sheathing materials. The old Waterproofing Sealer category disappears in 2011 and the Waterproofing Membrane category definition is constrained to specific below grade and hydrostatic applications.
PROSOCO’s interpretation is that products such as those found in the R-GUARD line would default to the Flat Coatings category and limit of 50 g/L. R-GUARD products comply with this CALGreen requirement.
Here’s the full text of the CARB 2007 SCM.
So what does this all mean for specifiers and users of PROSOCO’s products? The technical answer is that it will be business as usual. Since PROSOCO is fully engaged in AIM VOC regulatory and green building standards development our key technologies will still be available in the California market. The non-technical, gut answer is that we can all expect a lot of confusion.
Many manufacturers don’t even know about the CARB 2007 SCM and its revised category definitions. There will be inadvertent errors in product categorization and potentially erroneous CALGreen conformance claims. The situation will be complicated as local code officials come up the learning curve on CALGreen and its technical requirements.
From my perspective, there are many upsides to CALGreen. More buildings will be designed with sustainability and energy performance in mind. That represents opportunity for manufacturers who already understand the LEED building market. The new CALGreen market also represents an opportunity to get to know the green building codes world. This will help prepare building product specifiers and suppliers as municipalities begin adopting the International Green Construction Code in 2012.
The bottom line: green building codes are here and represent the future. We might as well learn to know and love them, because they aren’t going away.
Question or comments? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.