Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Aren’t there a lot of “green” programs out there? What’s so special about California Green Builder?
A: Yes. Many are points-based, complicated and driven by outside groups. California Green Builder keeps the building industry in charge of the agenda, helps localities meet mandates in water and wood savings and waste diversion, and is voluntary. It includes independent third party inspections and diagnostic testing of energy features.

Q: Don’t homes built under “green” program guidelines cost more to build?
A: Many green building techniques can be applied at little or no extra cost. Additionally, heating, cooling, and water use in green buildings often cost less so up-front costs to buyers can be offset in the long run.

Q: Isn’t “green” building more complicated?
The requirements for CGB include building to exceed energy efficiency standards; diverting at least 50% of construction and jobsite waste; reducing water use by at least 20,000 gallons compared to contemporary "non green" homes; and include guidelines for efficient lumber and wood usage. Many builders are nearly meeting CGB standards without knowing it.

Q: Why should builders want to build under the CGB guidelines? What’s in it for them?
Many builders are already building partially green, and there are many advantages. CGB builders may get fee deferrals and enhance their opportunity to build or achieve higher densities. CGB offers marketing support, sponsorship support, certificates, and possible recognition from elected officials. CGB is a great opportunity for builders to be perceived as even more socially responsible stewards of the environment. Additionally, CGB quantifies energy and resource savings that CGB builders can use as a selling tool.

Q: Isn’t it true that consumers aren’t concerned with building “green”?
No, recent studies have shown that many homebuyers want green homes. People want lower ozone-depleting gas emissions, sustainable forests, and less landfill waste. Builders report that "green" homebuyers have higher satisfaction, knowing they have done something good for the environment.

Q: What kind of research do you have that backs up your claims that “green” homes really help the environment?
CGB was conceived and created by The Building Industry Institute (BII), the research arm of the California Building Industry Association (CBIA). The BII continues to research and monitor crucial elements of green building techniques and make that data available to CGB program builders. The BII also conducted extensive literature research to verify and quantify the benefits for incorporated measures.

Q: How does building “green” improve the environment?

  • CGB Homes use 15-20 percent less energy than homes built to California’s exacting Title-24 requirements. It is estimated that for every 100 CGB homes save on average 70 therms of gas and 700 kWh, resulting in saving 137,100 lbs of CO2.

  • CGB homes reduce water usage by at least 20,000 gallons/year compared to contemporary "non-green" homes. Additionally, water delivery and treatment costs are reduced by building green, benefiting the public. Homeowners pay reduced water bills.

  • During construction, builders divert at least 50 percent, sometimes as much as 80 percent of their on-site construction wastes. This reduces landfill consumption and helps create new uses for second-hand products.

  • CGB homes have better indoor air quality because of advanced HVAC designs, MERV filters and increased use of low VOC materials.

  • Four credible, sustainable forest certifiers are included in CGB, including the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), the Canadian Standards Association’s Sustainable Forest Management System Standards (CAN/CSA), and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Other sustainable forest certifiers may be included when warranted.

Q: What is a California Green Builder home, exactly? What are the requirements?

Higher Energy Efficiency Standards
CGB homes are designed and built to exceed California’s stringent Title 24 energy efficiency standards by at least 15%. CGB homes will feature:

  • Improved insulation installation
  • Engineered HVAC systems
  • Tight HVAC Ducts
  • High-efficiency glazing (SHGC and U-value < 0.40)
  • Independent third-party inspections and diagnostics of energy features

Water Resource Conservation
CGB homes use at least 20,000 gallons less water than similar, newly constructed “non green” homes by featuring:

  • Innovative plumbing systems and fixtures such as
    • Parallel hot water piping; or
    • Hot water recirculation system
    • Ultra-low flow toilet(s) (= 1.28 gpf)
    • High-efficiency clothes washer as a buyer option (water factor ≤ 6.0)
  • New designs for landscaping and irrigation such as
    • Weather-based irrigation controllers that provide only the amount of water required to sustain the landscaping (Smart Controller)
    • Front yard landscaping with a maximum of 75% turf, drought tolerant plants, and a high-efficiency drip irrigation system
  • Enrollment in the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s California Friendly water conservation program. For more information, visit (Rebates may be applicable to MWD customers only. Other water districts may offer similar rebates and programs)

Wood Conservation
Certified wood products that come from forests overseen by SFI, ATFS: CAN/CSA or will qualify under CGB.

Improved Indoor Air Quality
CGB Requires ACCA design protocols be used to ensure comfort and adequate ventilation. In addition, Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) 6 filters and use of low/no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) help improve indoor air quality.

Waste Diversion
CGB requires that at least 50% of on-site construction waste be diverted from landfills. This helps communities meet their AB 939 mandates.

Q: Don’t “green” homes look like something out of the Flintstones? What creature comforts do I have to give up to live “green”?
No, CGB homes look and feel just like traditional homes, except they use less energy, help power plants to emit fewer greenhouse gases, conserve water and wood, send less solid waste to landiffs, provide better indoor air quality, and save homebuyers money on energy and water bills.