Inter-Departmental Correspondence





April 13, 2009


April 28, 2009







Honorable Board of Supervisors



Lisa Grote, Director of Community Development



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Direction to hold public meetings to discuss potential amendments to Division VII, Chapter 14, of the San Mateo County Ordinance Code (the Building Regulations) to amend the “Green Building Program” requiring minimum standards for new construction or remodels or additions of residential single-family, low-rise multi-family buildings, commercial and industrial buildings.




Accept the current progress report on the Green Building Program, and direct the Green Building Task Force and staff to conduct public outreach meetings to discuss potential amendments to the Green Building Program and to return to the Board of Supervisors in Fall 2009 with an updated progress report and any proposed Program amendments.



Present the certificate of appreciation for the County’s first new single-family residence completed under the County’s Green Building Program to Mike Dethlefsen for the house at 5 Avenue Alhambra.



Commitment: The Program keeps the commitment of “Preserve and provide people access to our natural environment.”


Goal 14 states: “Important natural resources are preserved and enhanced through environmental stewardship.”


The Green Building Program continues to encourage, among other things, the use of recycled materials and energy efficient appliances in building projects. The Program lowers energy usage, reduces the operating and maintenance costs for buildings, provides a healthier indoor environment, and reduces waste in landfills.



On February 12, 2008, the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance (effective March 27, 2008) establishing the Green Building Program for unincorporated San Mateo County. The regulations established the minimum standards for new construction or substantial remodels (major remodels – 50% valuation or greater as determined by the Building Official) of residential single-family, low-rise multi-family, commercial and industrial buildings. Incentives for projects include expedited building permit processing and guaranteed building inspections within two working days of a request.


The Board also directed staff to return at six-month intervals to report on the effectiveness of the Program. On September 10, 2008, staff returned to the Planning Commission with a progress report discussing specific items and a proposal to amend the ordinance. The revisions included: updated definitions, reducing the bond amount from $10,000 to $5,000 and changing the timing for when the bond would be required. On October 7, 2008, the Board adopted a new ordinance (No. 04444) with the proposed amendments. The Board directed staff to return in six (6) months with an updated progress report, investigating the possibility of a “feebate” system, and additional tiers or types of construction projects that could be included in the Program.


As of the end of February 2009, 66 applications for construction have been submitted that are subject to the Program. Sixty-four (64) applications are for new or remodeled single-family residential dwellings and two (2) applications are for new commercial construction. Since March 27, 2008, the Planning and Building Department has received a total of 1,868 building permits for all types of construction. The 66 green building applications represent 3.5% of this total workload and the 34 applications qualifying for expedited services is only 1.8% of the Department’s workload. The Green Building Program continues to have no appreciable impact on the Department workload or on other applications. Bay Area third-party raters are currently charging an average of $1,300 per project.


For the past year, the Green Building Task Force has continued to meet on a monthly basis. In response to the Planning Commission and Board’s direction to staff at the September and October 2008 public hearings, the Task Force and staff are proposing to hold public meetings to discuss potential modifications to the Program. These include: (1) requiring all remodeling and additions (“minor” building permits - less than 50% valuation) for existing single-family residences, two-family residences and low-rise multi-family residential projects to fill out a GreenPoint Rated Existing Home Checklist indicating a minimum of 5 points (this would equal to 11% of the total number of building permits received by the Building Inspection Section); (2) new standards for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) replacement systems in existing structures; and (3) decreasing the qualifying minimum square footage from 3,000 sq. ft. to 1,000 sq. ft. for new or additions to commercial or industrial buildings.


Planning Commission Action: At its March 25, 2009 public hearing, the Commission voted to recommend the Green Building Task Force and staff conduct public outreach meetings to discuss potential amendments to the Green Building Program and return to the Commission in the Fall of this year with the results of the public meetings and recommended additional amendments.


Certificate of Appreciation: The first “Green Home” under the County’s Green Building Program has been completed and has achieved 98 points on the Build It Green Checklist. The Board appreciates the efforts of the property owner and will present him with a Certificate of Appreciation.