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Schwarzenegger's greenish building code

July 18, 2008 | 10:30 am

Arnold300 California issued new building standards Thursday, which state officials said would push developers to reduce the energy use of buildings by 15% and target a 50% reduction in water for landscaping.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hailed the new standards as groundbreaking, adding in a statement that they "will ensure that California remains in the forefront of reducing our carbon footprint and conserving valuable natural resources while also protecting our economy."

However, the new green building language, which was heavily influenced by the construction industry, fell far short of the stringent rules that environmental advocates had sought.

Schwarzenegger staffers headed off what threatened to be an embarrassing full-throated condemnation by meeting with environmentalists Wednesday and agreeing to last-minute revisions of the draft.

Building codes, until now an obscure part of government rule-making, have moved to the forefront in the battle over climate change and energy. Nationwide, buildings consume 39% of energy, 12% of potable water and 40% of raw materials, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. The structures are also responsible for 39% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Although California has long had the nation's most energy-efficient building standards, the state will have to considerably toughen them to comply with its legal mandate to reduce its global warming emissions by 30% over projected amounts in the next 12 years.

Story in the Los Angeles Times today.

-- Margot Roosevelt

Photo credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images