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Architects – 5 Reasons You Should Hire a CalGreen Specialist

Architects – 5 Reasons You Should Hire a CalGreen Specialist

CalGreen consultant

If your an architect, our 5 reasons why you should hire a CalGreen specialist should, at least, be informative. At best, you may want to adopt us and leave us all your worldly possessions.

Or maybe you’ll just call us to pick our brains, and that’s OK too.     

One: Low Cost

Let’s get this out of the way. We’re cheap. And not in the sense that, “we create value…blah, blah blah.” We’re cheap as in, “we don’t cost much”.

Our fee for residential projects ranges from $250 to $325. This includes authoring the checklist, putting it on a 24”x 36” AutoCAD drawing and delivering it to your inbox.

Our fee also includes signing of the Design Verification form by an ICC certified CalGreen Special Inspector (where required) and answering any CalGreen permit comments.

“But wait, there’s more (cue info-mercial music)!” Our fee also includes checking your architectural, electrical, civil, HVAC and plumbing plans and notifying you of any missing CalGreen Code items.

“And, if you order in the next 5 minutes…”, sorry, I seem to be channeling my inner Billy Mays. There is one more critical item covered in our basic fee. It’s perhaps the most significant of all.

Billy Mays

                             The Inimitable Billy Mays, R.I.P.

As CalGreen specialists, we include on our Cad drawing a detailed list of notes describing the General Contractors responsibilities for CalGreen compliance. The code requires the contractor perform certain duties during construction. Most general contractors are completely unaware of this.

Furthermore, your project’s CalGreen Checklist is not a contract document. The checklist does not place a contractual obligation on the contractor. Just because the checklist says that records must be kept for VOC’s, lumber moisture testing, construction waste plan, etc., does not mean the general contractor has this in his bid.

The only goal of the CalGreen Checklist is to indicate to the building department that the design professional is aware of the code provisions and commits to including them in his permit/construction documents.    

For these reasons, it is the responsibility of the design professional to include the CalGreen requirements in their design drawings. This applies not only to the architectural plans, but also to the other disciplines on your project. How often do you check your consultants plans to ensure they have included all the CalGreen requirements?

Guess who is the first named defendant on the lawsuit if your sub-consultant’s design doesn’t comply with the code?

(Hint – it’s not your sub-consultant).

Two: Not all CalGreen Code Requirements are Noted on the Checklist

CalGreen Checklist

This is a trap that may architects fall into. They presume that, as long as their project complies with the CalGreen Checklist, they are in compliance with the CalGreen code. This is not the case.

There are many other CalGreen code requirements that are not included in the typical abbreviated checklist.

Additionally, most of the building department’s checklists contains errors and/or omissions. Your project is still required to comply with the code even if an item is not on the checklist.

We frequently see this issue arise when the local building department is using a third-party plan reviewer. While your local permit counter dude (or dudette) may over-look these discrepancies, your third-party plan reviewer will not. More and more jurisdictions are outsourcing their plan review. This typically results in 30 pages of plan review comments…

A CalGreen specialist can help you avoid missing code-required items in your design.

Three: A CalGreen Specialist Knows Which Items Don’t Apply to Your Project

CalGreen checklist

Do you really know the detailed code requirements behind the abbreviated language on your checklist? Do you understand when your project does not need to comply with some of the checklist items? Can you defend your decisions to the building department or third-party plan reviewer?

To state the obvious, any checklist item that you don’t have to comply with, saves your client money. 

As a CalGreen Code specialist we understand the code requirements and how the plan reviewers interpret them.

If your plan reviewer has questions on your checklist, we deal directly with them to resolve any issues. We are talking with plan reviewers and code officials on a regular basis. Believe it or not many plan reviewers don’t understand many of the CalGreen code requirements and we are happy to educate them.

Four: Ensure You, and Your Sub-consultants, Cover all CalGreen Requirements

Permit applications

As we touched on above, it is important to ensure that all of the CalGreen Code items are also included in your sub-consultant’s plans.

A part of our basic service is to review the permit set of plans and note any CalGreen Code items that are missing. We will either send you a list of those items or we will cover them in CalGreen Notes on our permit plan(s).

Five: Clearly Specify the General Contractors Responsibilities

We provide a detailed list of CalGreen notes on our plans describing the contractor’s obligations during, and at the end, of construction. This documentation includes records of VOC compliance for materials, moisture content of sampled lumber, construction waste management receipts, recycled content and the Operation and Maintenance Manual.

If you are in a jurisdiction that does require this documentation you need to be aware of the possible ramifications. If you fail to include these requirements in your construction documents the contractor is not going to provide this service for free. The homeowner could end up with a significant change order at the end of the project.

While a design professional is not required to be perfect, they are required to comply with state code. You could be on hook for the costs associated with this.

If your project’s building department doesn’t require the submission of these documents we recommend you request them from the contractor and save them with your other project records.


At CalGreen Energy Services we are specialists in the CalGreen Code. CalGreen is our only business. We can save you time, money and stress by knowing the CalGreen portion of your project is being managed for you.  


If you have a CalGreen question please feel free to give us a call. We are happy to share our knowledge whether you hire us or not.   

For more information on dealing with third-party plan reviewers see:

The Ugly Truth of Third Party Plan Reviewers

For more info on CalGreen for residential projects see the California Housing and Community Development’s CalGreen website:

HCD CalGreen Website

To learn more about our CalGreen services for commercial buildings follow the link below.

CalGreen for Commercial Buildings

Call us today and let us show you how we can help with your project.


Phone: 707-328-5299

CalGreen Energy Services

CalGreen For Out of State Architects


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