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September 2, 2009 > Green building and landscaping practices revised

Green building and landscaping practices revised

By Meenu Gupta

Benefits of going green are irrefutable. Energy efficiency, conservation of water and resources, reduction of utility and maintenance costs, health of workers and residents, the list is endless.

Union City Council approved revisions to green building and landscaping practices on August 25 to establish green-building requirements for private, development projects and to modify the current green-building and landscaping requirements for publicly-funded projects.

The existing green building ordinance which was adopted in 2006 required public and public-private partnership building projects over $3M and landscapes over 5,000 sq. ft. to have either LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or Green Points and Bay-Friendly landscaping certification.

City-sponsored and public partnerships for projects over $3M will now require LEED Silver certification. Landscape projects over 5,000 sq. ft. will be required to meet the minimum Bay-friendly landscaping scorecard points recommended by Stopwaste.Org.

Making conservation-conscious decisions can save money and resources. All it takes is some homework to make the most of the green building initiative.

For privately-funded, residential additions or remodels over 500 sq. ft., a meeting with staff prior to building-permit application and submittal of checklist will be required. New single-family or secondary dwellings must obtain Green Point Rated certification prior to final approval. New multi-family or mixed-use buildings will require Green Point Rated certification prior to final approval. New landscapes will have to incorporate Bay-Friendly measures. New residential, private development will be required to obtain certification through the Build It Green Point Rated program. For more information, visit

New homes must score a minimum of 50 points in community, energy, indoor air quality, resources and water. This program is endorsed by the Northern California Homebuilders Association. Staff will complete the rating process in-house for the development of one residence. Consultation with staff will also be required for remodels over 500 sq. ft.

Non-residential new construction and additions or remodels over 1,000 sq. ft. must comply with the provisions listed in the Small Commercial Green Building checklist. New landscapes will also incorporate Bay-Friendly measures of which there are five categories - site, water, energy, materials and indoor environment. However, no pre-requisites or minimum points will be required.

"It is anticipated the ordinance will go into effect on January 1, 2010," concluded Carmela Campbell, Union City Planning Manager.

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