A voluntary program to build “green” in the city of San Mateo will soon become mandatory if the City Council adopts an ordinance requiring all new construction to be more environmentally friendly.
The requirements, first adopted last summer in the form of a resolution that requested new residential and commercial buildings follow “build it green” guidelines, will be presented to city councillors next month, according to City Manager Susan Loftus.
The meeting to introduce the ordinance is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 5 with a goal of adopting it Oct. 19.
Homes could be oriented to capture more sunlight and use less electricity, or efficient water fixtures could be used to reduce water consumption, said Stephen Lau, the city’s building official.
Introducing the voluntary “build it green” program was the first step in preparing for potential changes ahead, according to Lau.
“We feel the time is right to move forward with mandatory requirements,” he said. “It’s been voluntary for more than a year, so projects in the pipeline shouldn’t have issues or need to change plans.”
The green standards are a part of the city’s efforts to implement sustainability initiatives, which were adopted several years ago, according to Loftus.
The requirements are a part of a broader initiative that promotes residents’ reducing their footprint in recycling and cutting down on traffic and vehicle usage.
“The City Council and city organization are committed to moving forward with goals and believe these are a high priority to reduce carbon footprint,” Loftus said.
Lau said the builder will contract with Build it Green, a California-based non-profit that promotes energy efficiency, or LEED-certified rate consultants. Those consultants will review each project to determine its use of “green” resources, materials and layouts by using a rating system.
LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environment Designs — standards were created by the U.S. Green Building Council.
If new projects do not meet these requirements, adjustments will need to be made. Lau said he was not aware of any projects that would need drastic changes to meet the new standards, if adopted.
Mayor Brandt Grotte said San Mateo has been making steps to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and emissions for some time.
“We need to make that step a requirement for all development going forward,” he said.
Under the GreenPoint Rated system, projects earn points each time they conform to “green” guidelines. The system is used by numerous municipalities in the Bay Area and the state.
— Built within one-half mile of a major transit stop: 2
— Close to school, grocery store, other services: 2+
— High-efficiency air conditioning, eco-friendly refrigerants: 1
— 60 percent of power needs come from solar panels: 12
— 90 percent of power needs come from solar panels: 18
— 75 percent of floor insulation from recycled content: 1
— High-efficiency toilets: 4
— Rainwater-harvesting system installed: 1+
— Interior paints contain no volatile organic compounds: 3
— 80 percent of construction waste is recycled or reused: 4
— Walkway and driveway made of recycled materials: 1
Source: Build It Green