Green legislation sprouts for future city buildings

Future high-rise buildings in San Francisco would come with three disposal chutes: one for recyclables, one for compost and one for trash, according to sweeping green building laws headed to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

San Francisco officials would be following in the wake of Los Angeles lawmakers who made history this week by becoming the nation’s largest city to adopt environmentally focused building codes.

Both cities have based their laws on LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, standards written by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council on commercial and residential builders.

The LEED system allocates points to buildings for environmentally friendly features such as water-efficient landscaping, bicycle storage areas and the use of recycled construction materials and renewable energy.

The number of points earned by a building determines whether it achieves any of four levels of LEED certification: certified, silver, gold or platinum.

San Francisco’s law, championed by Mayor Gavin Newsom, requires commercial buildings taller than 25,000 square feet to achieve a “gold” LEED level by 2012, while residential buildings with at least five dwelling units will need to achieve “silver.”

Around half of The City’s air pollution emissions are created by the construction and electricity use of buildings, while the other half is spewed by cars and trucks, according to city data.

In the proposed regulations, by 2010 smaller residential projects would need to comply with the Californian GreenPoint Rated system, which was developed for smaller projects, according to Rich Chien, The City’s green building coordinator.

Residential Builders Association of San Francisco President Sean Keighran was indifferent when asked about the draft legislation.

“The industry is ahead of the legislators,” Keighran said. “The building products and techniques have all adapted and are moving in a green direction.”

Due to the size of the city, the new law in Los Angeles is expected to affect more new buildings, but the standard for commercial buildings taller 50,000 square feet and residential buildings with at least 50 units is less stringent than the gold standard proposed for San Francisco.

jupton@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

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