Sustainable Development

The 2016 Edition of the California Building Standards Code and the California Code of Regulations took effect on January 1, 2017 along with the new mandatory local green building and energy code amendments for the City of San Mateo.
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Every three years, the State of California adopts new building standards that are organized in Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations, referred to as the California Building Standards Code. The Building Standards Code is a compilation of several different codes that relate to different technical aspects of buildings. Cities can adopt requirements that are above and beyond what is included in the Building Code, referred to as a “reach code”. All proposed reach codes are filed with the State.

Mandatory Electric Vehicle Readiness (Green Building Code)



The Green Building Code amendment requires a higher number of mandatory electric vehicle ready (EV ready) parking spaces, referred to as “EV Spaces” than what is required by the State for new construction projects. An EV Space is defined as a parking space designated for immediate or future installation of EV charging equipment. An EV Space contains electrical panel capacity and conduit running from the panel to the charging space. However, it is not required to contain the actual EV charging equipment. The reasoning behind the proposed EV charging-related code amendments is to remove the barriers of installing EV chargers since the cost significantly increases if adequate electrical capacity is not built into a project at the onset.

The EV readiness amendment, and how it differs from the standards required by the State, are as follows:

  • New Multi-Family construction containing 3-16 units shall require a minimum of 1 EV Space (there is no State requirement for these properties).
  • New Multi-Family construction containing 17 or more units shall require a minimum of 10% of the total parking to be EV Spaces (the State requirement is 3%).
  • New Non-Residential Construction containing 6 or more parking spaces shall require a minimum of 10% of the total parking to be EV Spaces (the State requirement is 6%).

Mandatory Laundry-to-Landscape Systems (Green Building Code)



The Green Building Code amendment also includes a mandate for new single-family homes to install a valve to more easily allow for future greywater reuse from their laundry machines. This will remove one of the initial barriers to installing such as system.

Mandatory Solar Installations (Energy Code)



The Energy Code Amendment requires mandatory minimum size solar photovoltaic installations on all new construction. The amendments are as follows:

New Residential:



  • New single family buildings will be required to have a minimum 1 kilowatt photovoltaic system.
  • New multi-family buildings containing 3 to 16 units will be required to have a minimum 2 kilowatt photovoltaic system.
  • New multi-family buildings containing 17 or more units will be required to have a minimum 3 kilowatt photovoltaic system.

New Non-Residential:



  • New non-residential buildings of less than 10,000 square feet will be required to have a minimum 3 kilowatt photovoltaic system.
  • New non-residential buildings 10,000 square feet or larger will be required to have a minimum 5 kilowatt photovoltaic system.
As an alternative, all projects may provide a solar hot water (solar thermal) system with a minimum collector area of 40 square feet.

Mandatory Cool Roof Installations (Energy Code)



The Energy Code amendments also include a requirement for mandatory cool roof installations for all new multi-family and commercial developments with low-sloped roofs.

The mandate requires a lighter color roof to be installed on applicable buildings which reflects more sun and therefore requires less energy to be used for cooling buildings. Cool roofs are defined as having a minimum 3-year aged solar reflectance of 0.70, and a minimum thermal emittance of 0.75. These roofing products are commercially available and are often lower-cost than darker colored materials since additional pigments do not need to be added.

Background Information and Checklists:


The background reports, ordinances approving these code amendments and checklists are available for download below:

For additional information or help in determining whether your project meets the green building and energy guidelines, please contact the Community Development Department Building Division at (650) 522-7172.