Today the Building Standards Commission (BSC) approved emergency regulations proposed by the Division of the State Architect (DSA) to update the California Green Building Standards Code (Title 24) and create new water efficiency requirements for public schools and community college irrigated landscape areas. The changes require a reduction in outdoor potable water use through irrigation regulation, separate water meters, and automatic controllers that adapt to changes in weather and soil moisture. This action is being taken in conjunction with the Governor’s recent Executive Order B-29-15 issued April 1, 2015 regarding water restrictions and conservation efforts. Today’s actions pertain only to use of water outside of a school building and do not apply to graywater.
On July 21, the BSC will take further action to amend the code with more detail regarding the requirements, such as establishing triggers for required work, location of work, enforcement mechanisms, and more. Today’s action is essentially a placeholder to allow time for the DSA and stakeholders to further develop the new requirements. Additionally, while today’s action appears to apply to new construction as well as modernization projects, we have been told that the modernization requirements will likely be more limited in the final version of the code.
The new code adopts the Model Water Efficiency Landscape Ordinance (MWELO), housed in Title 23, for schools. This regulation establishes a structure for planning, designing, installing, maintaining, and managing water efficient landscapes. Under the new code, outdoor potable water use in landscape areas 2,500 square feet or greater must abide by the MWELO and meet an evapotranspiration adjustment factor (ETAF) of 0.65. Special landscape areas (SLAs) such as playfields, vegetable gardens, and other outdoor educational spaces are exempted from that calculation and would receive an additional water allowance of 0.35. The ETAF refers to the composition of a softscape, exempting SLAs, and reflects irrigation efficiency and types of vegetation. For projects with landscape areas between 1,000 and 2,500 square feet with outdoor irrigation, the code establishes requirements regarding controllers, sensors, and outdoor water use meters.
This represents new territory for DSA, which has historically not reviewed landscape work. DSA is intending for the final code changes to align with the work currently being done by the Department of Water Resources and other agencies, which may make modifications to the existing MWELO in July. Such modifications would then likely be incorporated into the DSA code.
C.A.S.H. staff and school district representatives have been working with the State Architect to provide feedback on the proposals, and we will continue to engage in this process as they work to finalize the regulations.
The regulations adopted today can be found at the following link:
~ Rebekah Cearley