State of California Buildings Focus on Water, Energy, Environment, Performance

Dan Burgoyne

Green building has long been part of California’s approach to a wide array of energy, water, environment, and development priorities. There are more than 3,500 LEED-certified green buildings in the state totaling more than 500 million square feet of real estate (see stats).

At the direction of California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., the California Department of General Services (DGS) leads the state green building efforts resulting in nearly 18 million square feet of state-owned or leased floor space certified to LEED across 142 buildings and growing. Over 14 percent of the entire state building portfolio is LEED certified. 14 state buildings have received multiple LEED certifications, and 17 have been certified LEED Platinum. Since the end of 2012, 49 state-owned buildings have been certified to LEED.

As a state agency we are proud of our accomplishments within the California state building portfolio thus far. For the last 18 months DGS and other state government entities have been acutely focused on slashing the state’s water footprint due to the severe drought. During calendar year 2014 alone, state facilities reduced water use by 23 percent and a moratorium was issued on non-essential landscaping projects at state facilities. In January 2014, DGS released a management memo directing state agencies to establish baseline water use figures at their facilities going back to 2010, and to report annual water use. It also encourages all new and renovated state buildings and landscapes to use alternative sources of water (e.g., reclaimed wastewater) when available. There is still much more to do and green building remains part of our strategy.

“The state is proud of its long term commitment to achieve LEED Silver certification for all new and major renovated state projects 10,000 square feet or larger, and for all existing buildings over 50,000 square feet.”

While water conservation and energy efficiency have been large focuses, green building and LEED certification helps our state facilities improve our performance (and helps us document that improved performance) in other important areas including indoor environmental quality, responsible materials cycles, reduced transportation impacts, environmentally preferable purchasing, and more – all with the benefit of third-party validation that we’re delivering as promised. DGS recently released a chapter of state policies on sustainable operations and practices for state agencies.

The state is proud of its long term commitment to achieve LEED Silver certification for all new and major renovated state projects 10,000 square feet or larger, and for all existing buildings over 50,000 square feet. This commitment was renewed by Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-18-12. The executive order is implemented using the state’s Green Building Action Plan. Additionally, the plan includes a zero net energy (ZNE) target for all state facilities beginning design after 2025 with an interim target for 50 percent of new facilities beginning design after 2020 to achieve ZNE, as well as a target for 50 percent of all existing state building area to achieve ZNE by 2025.

These targets build upon the state’s carefully curated public green building baseline: the California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen, or Title 24 part 11) which, among many other relevant codes like the California Energy Code, applies to all new and renovated buildings (residential and non-residential alike) across the state. California codes establish a much stronger baseline for all buildings from which additional greening can be attempted and achieved through leadership programs like LEED. We applaud the recent alignment work between LEED and CALGreen to reduce documentation burden and to make beyond-code green building leadership even more accessible to all building projects in the state.

Check out 115+ of our California owned/operated/leased LEED certified buildings on the Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG) and stay tuned for more green building milestones from California.

Dan Burgoyne
Sustainability Manager, California Department of General Services / LEED Fellow / Board member, U.S. Green Building Council / Member, LEED Materials & Resources Technical Advisory Group