How to Fill Out the CalGreen Checklist
How to fill out the CalGreen checklist is far more complex than checking a box. It’s a shame that so many permits get submitted with every box checked. In almost every case, this is a costly mistake for the owner.
The Green Building Standards Code allows just about anybody to fill out the checklist. It typically gets filled out at the very end of the project. It’s a last-minute rush to get the permit into the building department. Little thought is given to the checklist or the impact it will have on the project.
It is important to understand three things about the CalGreen Checklist.
The first is that the checklist is a commitment that is being made with the local building department. Each item checked becomes an obligation that the project must include. Failure to install any item on the list is cause for the building inspector to deny an occupancy permit. This can cause a costly delay for the project owner.
Second, it is important to understand that the checklist does not place an obligation on the contractor. The checklist shows to the building department how the project will comply with the code. The design drawings and specifications must describe every CalGreen item called for on the checklist.
Last, your local checklist may not have all the code required items on it. In fact, all the CalGreen Code requirements apply to every project. You cannot rely on your building department’s checklist for compliance with the code. This is a mistake we see on just about every project we’re called in to sort out.
Where to Start
We first need to understand the CalGreen requirements for your local jurisdiction. Just about every jurisdiction in California has a different process for CalGreen. We start with the building department’s website. Frequently, you will find the correct forms there. If not, you may need to call them and ask. It is a mistake to assume that you can use the standard HUD or AIA forms. Only a few jurisdictions accept these forms. It is critical to get the correct CalGreen permit documents for your jurisdiction!
Next, we need to find out if your jurisdiction requires Tier 1 or Tier 2 compliance. This should be noted on the building department website, but not always. Many cities and towns are very slow to update their websites. They are not always reliable. If in doubt, call the permit department and ask for the current requirements.
What do you do when the Green Building Standards Code has a requirement, but it’s not listed on the local checklist? The state code is the law and must be complied with. Your project must comply with the state code, even if a requirement doesn’t appear in the local checklist!
You checklist does not ensure your project complies with the state code. A knowledgeable CalGreen consultant is your best resource to avoid problems with your permit.
Reviewing and Filling Out the Checklist
First, become familiar with the general requirements of the checklist. Next, read the relevant section of the code. The language in the code is important. The checklist items are just references to the code. It may include a brief description, but may not be clear how it affects the project. The code language goes into greater detail of these requirements.
If you don’t have a copy of the CalGreen Code, you can view an online version here.
CalGreen is broad in scope. It includes bicycle parking, to non-permeable surfaces, to VOC’s, lighting, construction waste, plumbing fixtures, roofing materials, photo-voltaics, water efficient landscape, and on and on. It covers every aspect of sustainability. The number of issues to coordinate can be time consuming.
Also, because a checklist item says its mandatory, does not mean its mandatory for your project. Read the code and mark any non-applicable items as “NA”. Some jurisdiction checklists will have a space to explain why an item is “NA”, many do not.
Ensuring the Permit Plans Include All the Requirements
When you have completed the checklist, the next step is to review the permit drawings. You must ensure every item on the checklist is called for on the plans. As a minimum, create a “CalGreen Notes” block on the architectural cover sheet. Include any items that are not shown elsewhere in the set. Some checklists will require you to list the sheet, and detail, where each checklist item appears on the plans. Having one master list can simplify this process.
Lastly, a final check should be made to ensure all checklist items are covered in the permit plans. This may mean communicating with the electrical, HVAC, plumbing and Title 24 consultants to make sure their documents align with the requirements.
At CalGreen Energy Services we are specialists in CalGreen consulting and permitting. CalGreen is our only business. This experience and knowledge can be invaluable in ensuring the entire permit package is properly coordinated for your CalGreen submittal.
For more information on building permits in San Joaquin County see the requirements here:
For more information on our CalGreen Checklist services, please follow the link:
While the permit and construction process can be onerous, your CalGreen submittal need not be.
Call us today and let us show you how we can help with your project.
Gary Welch has over 35 years experience in the field of sustainable building design. He is the CEO of CalGreen Energy Services. Gary is an ICC Certified CalGreen Special Inspector and Plans Examiner.