Rebates Used to Entice Green Building

Goleta, CA, population 30,000, recently announced it would rebate 50 percent of land use fees to developers who build under a new "Green Building Code" meant to lower energy costs and water use as well as improving air quality. Details of how the city utilized state frameworks, will implement the program and guidelines for you to follow.

What Happened?

The Goleta City Council adopted a voluntary Green Building Program last week with incentives that include a 50 percent rebate of land use permit fees for projects completing the Energy Upgrade California or emPowerSBC programs or meeting similar standards.

Is This Important?

Gov1 has followed the efforts of municipal officials who are seeking ways to encourage adoption of low impact development or “green building” methods and standards. This approach provides a monetary incentive versus appealing to the developer’s concern for the environment.

Key Elements

The Green Building Program, which takes effect in January, includes:

  • a rebate of 50 percent of the land use permit fees for residential projects that voluntarily meet certain standards or complete the Energy Upgrade California and/or emPowerSBC programs
  • access to information about financing options, “best practices” and utility rebates to encourage green building
  • follows on the city’s adoption earlier this month of a Green Building Policy for government buildings
  • requires all city-owned buildings of 2,000 square feet or more to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system’s Silver certification

Next Steps

The green building requirements will be included on checklists required with building permit applications and supporting design, construction or development documents. Verification costs are the applicant’s responsibility.

If the project requires city council action, such as re-zoning, then mandatory requirements such as solar power and electric vehicle readiness will apply.

The city’s Green Building Program was developed through a two-year process that included the city’s Green Ribbon Committee plus members of the development, construction and design industries.

For more details of the program, including how it was developed, reach out to Public Information Officer Valerie Kushnerov -

What You Should Do

California cities such as Oakland, Santa Barbara and Berkeley are leaders in adopting these “green building” ordinances in an effort to increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gases and reduce impacts from commercial and residential development.

In 2010, the state of California adopted the first, and so far only, statewide green building standards, the California Green Building Standards Code, better known as CALGreen. However, California cities such as San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles already had stronger such codes in place.

The U.S. Department of Defense has proposed a “green building code” aimed at streamlining the LEED certification process. The U.S. Green Building Council, which developed the LEED building rating system, believes CALGreen is weak, immeasurable and unenforceable. The council is revising its LEED standards in 2013 with the changes taking effect in 2015.

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