Planning and Building > Our Services > Green Building > Green Building How to Succeed

Green Building How to Succeed

Icon of the Edes Ave Project GreenPoint Rated Certificate

On October 19, 2010 the City of Oakland adopted the green building ordinance for private development projects.
This ordinance was an amendment to the Oakland Municipal Code, Section 18.02. Below is a step-by step process to help you succeed in your green building project.

 

Process Effective Starting January 1, 2011

 

Pre-Planning Entitlement Phase

  • Determine if your project is covered by the green building ordinance by reviewing the Thresholds. Many types of construction are covered by the ordinance including existing buildings or new Photo of the Bay Friendly Guidelinesconstruction. How "green" your project needs to be depends on what you are constructing and how big it will be. The Thresholds also indicate which green building checklist you should use. The Thresholds might also indicate that an alternate checklist can be used. In general these alternate checklists are either more stringent or are tailored to specific project types. A planner at the permit counter can provide you with the applicable green building checklist or you can visit the green building Resources webpage. The Thresholds will also indicate what the minimum green building point or level requirement for the project. Find out as early as possible what you need to do.
     
  • Review the green building checklist to determine which green building features will be incorporated into your project. You may be surprised to find that your building is already more "green" than you thought based on existing codes, other City policies, project location, etc. Choose "low hanging fruit" if this is your first green building project.
     
  • Budget for the required GreenPoint Rater or LEED Accredited Professional (AP)and third-party certification.
     
  • Staff has out together a Guide to the Green Building Ordinance in order to answer questions about the Ordinance. Click here for the Guide to the Green Building Ordinance.

    TIPS
  1. Get a GreenPoint Rater or LEED AP (Green Building Certifier) on your project team as soon as possible. Green building starts in the pre-planning phase. Not only are these professionals required to be on the project team but if consulted early enough they can help you design your project to include even more green features, thereby saving you time and money. Trying to incorporate green features after the project has been designed will almost always be more costly. You can find a Green Building Certifier by visiting the green building Resources webpage.
     
  2. Familiarize yourself with the green building guidelines and the glossary of green building terms by reviewing the Green Building Resource webpage.

  3. While the checklists and guidelines are divided into individual green building points, in reality each measure is closely integrated with other design strategies. Try to remember that a building is a complex interconnection of systems. If you think in terms of building systems such as electrical and energy systems, rather than isolated points on a checklist, designing the building will be easier and more cost effective.

  4. Build a cushion of several points over the minimum required. In this way as the project evolves from pre-planning to actual construction, you have the flexibility to substitute or eliminate points to suit your specific project type and budget.

 

 

 Planning Entitlement Phase

  • In addition to the other typical planning submittal requirements, you will need to submit a completed green building application form and the applicable green building checklist for your project type. Your plans should indicate green building points where applicable, either on the floor plans, elevations, or in details. A couple of examples on a GreenPoint Rated project include indicating on the floor plans that you are not installing a fireplace; on the roof plans that you are installing a photovoltaic solar system; or on the elevations that you are installing eaves of a certain dimension.  

    However, many points are not typically shown on plans submitted at this stage. Your other documentation should include a narrative or project description of which points you plan to achieve but which are not readily apparent or on the plans. An example of this might be that you plan to use low VOC paint for the rooms but you don’t know the actual manufacturer or that you plan to install Energy Star appliances. In addition, you will need to submit a signed statement by the Green Building Certifier that the project complies with the minimum requirements of the ordinance at this phase.Photo of the Planning and Zoning Permit Counter
     
  • The Planner assigned to your project will review the green building documentation and will determine whether this information is complete. If it is not complete you must submit additional information in order to make your application complete.
     
  • The Planner will meet with the Green Building Certifier, as needed, to go over the green building documentation. Based on this meeting, the Planner will make a determination that the project either complies or does not comply with the green building ordinance. If the project complies, then the project, as designed, can proceed with the planning entitlements. If the project does not comply, the project applicant must revise the plans to comply with the ordinance and resubmit. Additional meetings with the Green Building Certifier are necessary until the project complies with the ordinance. Per the ordinance, the planner could request that a peer reviewer be retained to review the green building documentation. A planning entitlement will not be granted until the planner is reasonably assured that the project will comply with the ordinance.
     
  • In the case of projects involving a historic resource, this meeting shall also include a Historic Preservation Planner. This planner will ensure that the green features to be achieved do not undermine the historic character of the building by suggesting other potential green building points for consideration.
     
  • The planner will include a Condition of Approval that the project must achieve third-party certification through either Build It Green for GreenPoint Rated projects or the Green Building Certification Institute for LEED projects. This is an ongoing Condition of Approval which means that even after the project is constructed and the final certificate of occupancy has been granted that this Condition must be met. The project applicant must submit the documentation certifying that the project is a green building to the case planner within a certain timeframe per the Condition of Approval.
     
  • A project applicant can apply for an unreasonable hardship exemption but an applicant can only do so during the planning entitlement phase. After planning entitlements have been granted, the project applicant cannot request an unreasonable hardship exemption from this ordinance during the plancheck or the inspections phase. Also an applicant cannot apply for an unreasonable hardship exemption from Title 24 or other building code requirements.

    An applicant wishing to apply must submit a completed Unreasonable Hardship Exemption Application available through the Planning and Zoning Division. The applicant must also pay the fee associated with this application. After public notice, the Director of Planning will accept or deny the application based solely on information provided by the applicant. This information needs to show that there are unusual circumstances and the public interest is not served by compliance with the ordinance. For projects involving a historic resource, the Director of Planning may refer the request to the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board for their recommendation. If the Director of Planning of approves the exemption he/she shall also determine the maximum feasible number of credits that will be achievable for the project. In other words, even if an exemption is granted then the project applicant shall still have to implementation some green building features into the project. This decision by the Director of Planning is appealable to the Planning Commission but again only during the entitlement phase.

 

 

 

Construction Permitting Phase (Building Permit Phase)

  • This process assumes that you have already determined that your project is subject to the ordinance and received a planning approval and permit. 
     
  • Along with the other typical building permit submittal requirements, you will need to submit all documentation needed to comply with Title 24 and the California Energy Efficiency Standards, the green building checklist approved during the planning entitlement process, permit plans that indicate in the floor plans, elevations, details, and specifications the green building points you intent to achieve, a copy of the signed statement from the Green Building Certifier submitted during the planning entitlement phase and a new signed statement by the Green Building Certifier that the project still complies with the minimum requirements and any other documentation necessary to determine compliance with the ordinance.Image of Approved Building Plans
     
  • The project applicant can request that green building points approved during the planning entitlement stage be substituted or eliminated at the construction permitting stage. The project applicant must submit a Request for Revision Plancheck indicating the green building points to be omitted or changed. This request will be reviewed by the Building Services Division, the Planning and Zoning Division and if the project involves a historic resource, a Historic Preservation Planner. However, the project can not go below the minimum Threshold requirement or the required number of green building points in each green building category. Staff recommends building a buffer of points into the project for flexibility. Affordable housing projects have different rules regarding substitution or elimination of points. Project applicants for these projects should check with the Housing and Community Development Division.
      
  • The plan checker will meet with the Green Building Certifier, as needed, to go over the green building documentation. Based on this meeting, the plan checker will make a determination that the project either complies or does not comply with the green building ordinance. If the project complies then the plan checker will issue a building permit. If the project does not comply, the project applicant must revise the plans to comply with the ordinance and resubmit. Additional meetings with the Green Building Certifier are necessary until the project complies with the ordinance. Per the ordinance, the plan checker could request that a peer reviewer be retained to review the green building documentation. A building permit will not be granted until the plan checker is reasonably assured that the project will comply with the ordinance.
 

Construction Inspections Phase

  • This process assumes that the project is subject to the ordinance and has received a planning and building permit that shows compliance with the ordinance. 
  • With the first inspection and ongoing throughout construction, the project applicant will need to periodically submit to the Inspector, the green building checklist(s) approved during the planning entitlement process and the building permit phase, a signed statement from the Green Building Certifier that the project still complies with the minimum requirements and any other documentation necessary to determine compliance with the ordinance. 
     
  • The project applicant can request that green building points approved during the planning entitlement stage or the construction permitting stage be substituted or eliminated during the construction inspections phase. The project applicant must submit a Request for Revision Plancheck indicating the green building points to be omitted or changed. This request will be reviewed by the Building Services Division, the Planning and Zoning Division and if the project involves a historic resource, a Historic Preservation Planner. However, the project can not go below the minimum Threshold requirement or the required number of green building points in each green building category. Staff recommends building a buffer of points into the project for flexibility. Again, affordable housing projects have different rules regarding substitution or elimination of points. Project applicants for these projects should check with the Housing and Community Development Division for more information.
      
  • The inspector will periodically meet with the Green Building Certifier to go over the green building documentation. Based on these meetings, the documentation and visual inspections, the inspector will make a determination that the project either complies or does not comply with the green building ordinance. If the project complies then the inspector will allow the project to proceed with construction or if the project is complete will permit a certificate of occupancy to be issued. If the project does not comply, the inspector may issue a Stop Work order. This can apply to the whole project or just a portion of the project. The Stop Work order shall remain in effect until the Inspector determines that the project is in compliance with the ordinance.