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California Policy Corner: Driving progress at all levels

April 20, 2017
Brenden McEneaney
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In this first installment of USGBC's new California Policy Corner series, see what we are doing to work with state and local government to accelerate the uptake of healthy, efficient, low-impact buildings.

While the President and Congress battle over budgets, health care and administration appointees, California is forging its own path to progress, where climate, energy, water, buildings and infrastructure are key parts of the discussion. Across the state, USGBC members and partners are working to drive policy and action across California at the state and local levels. 

At the federal level

USGBC is concerned about the future of a number of great EPA programs, including Energy Star, WaterSense and Safer Choice. In response to the proposed budget, USGBC is working with allies and members to let the key congressional appropriators know that these programs matter to American businesses. Please consider supporting these EPA programs by joining our organization sign-on letter, or by sending a comment as an individual

At the state capitol

The top issues the state legislature has been tackling this year have been related to energy, water and immigration. While these and other front-burner issues consume much of the airwaves, almost 100 bills were introduced related to green building issues. Relevant bill topics range from onsite water reuse to residential energy savings programs to sustainability districts.

After a successful 2016, USGBC has been active at the California State Assembly this year, meeting with various stakeholders to discuss green building. We have been talking about how holistic green building can address greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, the viability of more sustainable infrastructure and LEED certification as an effective metric to measure green building outcomes.

USGBC has submitted letters of support for AB 574, which proposes regulating direct potable water reuse as a viable and safe water supply option, and for SB 740, which proposes directing the Water Resources Control Board to develop guidelines for onsite, nonpotable water systems. Both bills are continuations of past efforts led by USGBC to harness alternative water sources in California’s uncertain water future. 

In addition, we're tracking clean energy legislation, such as cap and trade funding sources, the Senate pro tem’s initiatives on renewable energy (SB 584) and both the Senate and assembly’s land conservation bonds (SB 5/AB 18). We are also working to promote the value of third-party verified sustainability standards in housing and infrastructure.

USGBC has submitted comments and letters of support, in concept, for a handful of bills with upcoming hearings:

  • AB 1088, which requires more robust energy options and efficiency efforts for multifamily residential housing;
  • SB 242, which addresses administration of PACE contracts;
  • SB 424, which addresses the California Regional Environmental Education Community Network; and
  • AB 733, which addresses enhanced infrastructure financing districts.

USGBC will continue to monitor progress on these bills and others as they evolve and will keep you up to date. We’re convening panels at the Green California Summit and Expo in Sacramento on April 26 and 27. After the summit, join our Sacramento USGBC leaders for a networking event at the first LEED-certified restaurant in the city.

Looking ahead, we are in the beginning stages of planning advocacy 2017 "Policy Palooza," where we hope to have you join us in Sacramento for education, advocacy and appreciation—namely, our signature Green Hard Hat Awards for champions of green building policy. Let us know if you have a public sector leader to nominate.

At the local level

Across the state, USGBC volunteers and communities have been active in promoting green building as a solution to many of California’s challenges in development, affordability, energy and the environment. California's cities and counties are also key partners in this progress towards market transformation.

For more green building news, please subscribe to our USGBC digests as well as following your local USGBC community in California: Northern CaliforniaRedwood EmpireCentral CaliforniaCalifornia Central CoastLos AngelesOrange County, and San Diego

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