Sonoma County CalGreen Checklists
The Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Division (PRMD) has updated their CalGreen Checklists for the 2019 Green Building Standards Code requirements. The new checklists are (click on title below to download):
- BPC-065 CalGreen Checklist Residential New Construction
- BPC-066 CalGreen Checklist Residential Additions and Alterations
- BPC-068 CalGreen Checklist Non-Residential New Construction
- BPC-069 CalGreen Checklist Non-Residential Additions and Alterations
Although there are many changes to the CalGreen Checklists, they still require a CalGreen Special Inspector to review and sign the forms. The CalGreen Inspector needs to sign the Design Verification form before it is submitted for permit. At the completion of the project, the inspector must visit the site and verify that all checklist items have been completed. They will then sign the Implementation Verification form that is required for the permit close-out of your project. These requirements apply to both residential and commercial construction.
Changes to the PRMD 2019 CalGreen Checklists
There are a number of changes to the format and documentation requirements. On both the residential and commercial checklists you can no longer simply check the Mandatory Measures boxes. On the new checklist you have to indicate exactly where on the plans each requirement is shown. This takes additional time in order to review the architectural, civil and landscape plans and locate the note or detail that describes the requirement.
There has been a misunderstanding in the industry as to the intent of the CalGreen Checklist. Many architects and design professionals are under the misconception that if its marked in the checklist, they have satisfied the code requirement. This couldn’t be farther from the truth!
The intent of the CalGreen Checklist has always been to demonstrate to the plan reviewers that the design professional has addressed the code requirements. The checklist is not part of the design documents and places no obligation on the installing contractor. It is up to the design professional to detail each checklist item on the permit plans. This is to ensure that clear direction is given to the installing contractor, and the design is fully coordinated with all disciplines.
The new requirement to identify where each item is shown on the plans forces the architect, or design professional, to include each checklist item into the permit plans. This is further reinforced by having a CalGreen Special Inspector verify each item is shown on the plans before they sign the Design Verification form.
Changes to the CalGreen Residential CalGreen Checklist
- Clarification that existing site and landscaping that are not otherwise disturbed (such as in a remodel) are not subject to the requirements of CalGreen.
- Adjustable humidity controlled bathroom fans to maintain between 50% to 80% humidity.
- A clarification to the electric vehicle charging station rough-in requirements. It now states you must provide a raceway and sufficiently sized service panel to accommodate the future charging station.
- The requirement that metering faucets in residential buildings shall no deliver more than 0.2 gpm.
Changes to the CalGreen Non-Residential CalGreen Checklist
The 2019 Non-residential checklist has, in my opinion, taken a huge step backwards. The new checklist no longer gives any explanation of the specific code requirements.
The 2016 version gave a brief, but quite helpful, summary of each code requirement. In most cases this explanation was adequate for the design professional to understand the intent.
The new non-residential CalGreen Checklist typically reads as follows:
Mandatory Short term bicycle parking 18.104.22.168.1
There is no explanation, at all, for what the requirement is. The 2016 checklist included a clear explanation as to how to calculate the number of required short term bicycle parking stations.
This is a surprising step backwards for PRMD. Generally they have been very good in trying to make their permit process easier for design professionals and builders. This change not only makes it harder for users to find the code requirement, but also opens the door for misinterpretations of the CalGreen Code.
A Mistake on the Checklist
Hopefully this will be corrected by the time you read this, but there is a mistake on the 2019 Sonoma County CalGreen Residential New Construction checklist. We have brought this to the attention of PRMD and they told us this was an editing error and would be corrected. As of the writing of this article, the checklist has not been corrected.
The current checklist is missing section 4.408. Construction Waste Reduction, Disposal and Recycling.
This raises and interesting issue. The Green Building Standards Code allows local jurisdictions to selectively enforce the code. In essence, the CalGreen Checklist becomes the “code” for that jurisdiction. Even if there is a requirement in the state code, if it’s not on the checklist, you don’t have to comply. Or do you? The code, and PRMD, are not at all clear on this issue.
Which begs the question – of the Construction Waste requirement is not on the official checklist at the time of permit submission, do you have to comply with it?
This would probably be a good time to call a CalGreen specialist and let them sort it out!
It’s Time for a CalGreen Specialist
Whether you are an architect, designer, builder or home owner, the time has come to consider a CalGreen specialist. With each new code cycle the process becomes more complex. These complexities lead to misinterpretations that can end up costing your project time and money.
At CalGreen Energy Services we are specialists in the CalGreen Code. CalGreen is our only business. If you have a CalGreen question please feel free to give us a call. We are happy to share our knowledge.
Call us today and let us show you how we can help with your project.
To learn how to use the PRMD online permit application process, see their informative video:
For more information on the PRMD permit process, visit their website here:
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.