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Merced County CalGreen

Merced County CalGreen

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Merced County CalGreen requirements are similar to elsewhere in the state. The Merced Municipal Code has adopted the current version of the California Green Building Standards Code (aka CalGreen) under section 16.34.010. The adopted code applies to all new residential and commercial buildings.

Compliance with the CalGreen Code is required for additions or alterations that fall within certain requirements. Residential compliance is required if the addition or alteration increases the “conditioned area, volume, or space of the residence.” (CalGreen Code section 301.1.1)

Let’s break this code language down. First, the term “conditioned” refers to a space that is heated or cooled.

The building “area” means an increase in the building’s over-all square footage. For example, an interior remodel does not increase the over- all square footage.

The building “volume” means an increase in the building’s height. This would apply if you were increasing the height of a room in the building but not increasing the square footage of the building. For example, creating a “great room” out of your existing living room by either raising the ceiling or raising the roof.

The building “size” means an increase in the building’s – well I’m not really sure since the size would also include the building’s area or the volume. If there is an example where an increase in the building’s size did not include an increase in area or volume, I don’t know of one. The building code is not mistake-free!

If you are simply doing an interior remodel of a space that is already heated and cooled, you do not need to comply with the Cal Green Code.

However, if your remodel includes an area that was not previously heated or cooled, even if you are not increasing the area of the home, then you will need to comply.

For commercial (non-residential buildings) building additions and alterations Merced County CalGreen code applies to projects that add 1,000 square feet or more, or the building alterations have a permit valuation of $200,000 or above. 

Unoccupied Buildings


                     CalGreen Required?

There is a perception that the CalGreen Code only applies to occupied buildings. This is probably due to the fact that the Energy Code only applies to occupied buildings.

However, here is the actual language of the California Green Building Standards Code section 101.3 Scope:

101.3 Scope. The provisions of this code shall apply to the planning, design, operation, construction, use and occupancy of every newly constructed building or structure, unless otherwise indicated in this code, throughout the State of California.

The code makes no reference, or exception, for unoccupied buildings. The The intent appears to include unoccupied buildings as well. The vast majority of the building department’s in the state do not require CalGreen compliance documentation for unoccupied buildings such as detached garages, barns, sheds, or similar out-buildings. 

However, for a recent Merced County detached garage project the plan reviewer required a CalGreen Checklist be submitted. We know of only two other jurisdictions in the state that require a CalGreen Checklist be submitted for these type of structures. They are Napa County and Union City. If you have an unoccupied project in Merced County you may want to verify that your project will require a CalGreen Checklist. If it is necessary its better to get it included in your original permit submittal to avoid delays in your project’s approval. Here is a link to the Merced County Building Department

Which CalGreen Checklist to Use?

Merced County CalGreen requirements do not specify which CalGreen Checklist should be submitted. For residential projects we recommend the one published by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). You can downland this checklist here.

An alternative checklist for residential projects is the one published by the AIA. We do not like this checklist as it is unclear, difficult to edit properly, and has many items that apply to hotels and motels. Overall it can add more confusion to your project, especially at project closeout. If you still want to use it you can download it here. Please make sure you edit this for your project and do not simply insert the checklist into your set as is! If you are a design professional, this is not considered due diligence. The checklist must be edited for your specific project.

For non-residential (commercial) projects, the only real option is the one published by the AIA. You can download the non-residential checklist here. It is critical that this checklist be very carefully edited. There are many expensive items that may, or may not, be applicable to your project. 

These checklists are intended for use by those with significant knowledge and experience with the California Building Codes and the details of the California Green Building Standards Code. If in doubt, reach out to a CalGreen specialist to help you with your project. Fees are typically in the range of a Title 24 report cost.   

Residential and Commercial CalGreen Services

Our ICC certified staff develop permit documents for both commercial and residential projects in Merced County. We provide checklists, inspections and CalGreen commissioning services at economical prices. Whether your building an ADU, a new home, or designing a large commercial project we can guide you through the process while saving you money. 

Call or email us today. We will provide a written proposal that includes your total cost and a specific delivery date for your permit plans. We have a two-day turnaround on CalGreen checklists for your building permit application.

CalGreen Inspector

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.

Gary Welch


Phone: 707-328-5299

CalGreen Energy Services

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