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Planning and Community Development Department

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  • Green Building Standards

    California Green Building Standards Code

    Effective January 1, 2011, the New 2010 Building Codes will be enforced

    Click the links below to view California Green Building Standards Code and City's Ordinance and Staff Report

  • Green Building Program

    Green buildings require the use of fewer natural resources and provide a healthy, productive indoor environment for occupants by using an integrated design approach that incorporates:

    • Site Planning   
    • Design
    • Building Preservation
    • Construction
    • Operations
    • Maintenance
  • Green Building Design

    Early in the design process the entire life-cycle of the building and its components are considered, as well as the economic and environmental impact and performance. The project team looks at all aspects of the building design to make a conscientious assessment of how to lessen the environmental impacts associated with the project. The design team may include:   

    • Owner/Developer
    • Architect
    • Engineers (structural, electrical, mechanical)
    • Landscape architect
    • Interior designer
    • Contractor (general & subs)
    • Major tenants
    • Building operator

    Increasingly, designers, builders, and property owners are becoming interested and involved in green building as the benefits become readily apparent. Benefits of building green include:

    • More natural resources for the future
    • Reduced energy consumption
    • Improved occupant health
    • Increased revenue
    • Lower operating costs
    • Increased employee productivity
    • Reduced liability

    Green buildings can ultimately result in enhanced economic affairs, lead to market transformation, and provide for responsible, farsighted development.

  • Green Building Initiation

    Art Center stairs at nightRealizing that Pasadena’s rich architectural fabric and community livability should be complimented with environmentally sound buildings, the City pursued the development of a green building program focused on new devolpment.

    In early 2005, Pasadena retained the services of a green building expert; reviewed existing City regulations; analyzed building activity; examined other jurisdictions’ environmental programs; and solicited advice from development groups with the goal of having a green building program approved by year end. A green ribbon committee of industry and community stakeholders was formed to provide guidance. As a result of these efforts, on December 19, 2005 (view staff report below), the Pasadena City Council unanimously approved a green building program with three components:  

    1. green building ordinance
    2. incentives, and
    3. outreach & education

    As stated by Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard,

    “Pasadena is a city that is committed to creating a livable community and our green building policies are intended not only to be efficient so that they are profitable but also so they are protective of the environment.”

    Remarks of Mayor Bill Bogaard
    Pasadena’s Green Building Program
    October 20, 2005

  • Green Building Ordinance

    Tricom BuildingEffective as a permanent city policy on April 15, 2006, the City Council approved a set of progressive green building regulations for public and private sector buildings – Pasadena Municipal Code Chapter 14.90 Green Building Practices Ordinance.

    Buildings required to comply with Chapter 14.90 include:

    • municipal buildings of 5,000 square feet or more of new construction
    • non-residential buildings with 25,000 square feet or more of new construction
    • tenant improvements of 25,000 square feet or more
    • mixed use and multi-family residential buildings four stories in height or more

    These thresholds were chosen as they represent a majority of construction projects in Pasadena and coincide with thresholds for other mandatory City reviews.

    To increase the environmental performance of buildings in Pasadena, the City Council approved amendments to the above thresholds and requirements as follows:

    • new municipal buildings must achieve LEED Silver at a minimum
    • municipal renovations of 15,000 square feet or more must achieve LEED Silver at a minimum
    • commercial type buildings of over 50,000 square feet or more must meet the intent of LEED Silver at a minimum
    • all projects subject to the ordinance must achieve LEED credit 3.1 Water Efficiency (exceed the baseline water projection by 20%)

    These new requirements go into effect May 16, 2008 for projects that have not registered with the USGBC prior to May 16.

  • 2007 Green Building Workshops

               Residential Booklets                                                              

    Workshop 1  "Green Building for the Homeowner"         

    Workshop 2  "Greening Your House" - Part I                              

    Workshop 3   "Greening Your House" - Part II                              

    Workshop 4   "Exterior Green: Landscaping for the Environment    

               Commercial Booklets                                                         

    Workshop 1   "Intro to Green Building and Green Building Ordinance" 

    Workshop 2   "The Costs and Benefits of Building Green" 

    Workshop 3   "Green Tenant Improvements/Maintenance and Operations" 

    Workshop 4   "Green Building Maintenance & Operations for the Exterior and Core 

    Rating A Building's 'Greenness'-LEED

    To measure a building’s “greenness” in a fair and consistent manner, Solar Panels on rooftopthe Green Building Practices Ordinance adopts by reference the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED™) green building rating system. 
    Compelling reasons for selecting LEED over other green guidelines, and in lieu of creating separate guidelines for Pasadena, include LEED’s recognition as a national green building rating system, its flexibility, and its integrated approach to achieving “greenness.”

    Armory Solar sideroofLEED awards points to buildings based on five main categories:

    1. Sustainable site planning
    2. Safeguarding water and water efficiency
    3. Energy efficiency and renewable energy
    4. Conservation of materials and resources
    5. Indoor environmental quality

     For more about the US Green Building Council and LEED go to http://www.usgbc.org/ 

    Click here for information on the LEED green building rating system and portfolio of the green checklists.  



  • Green Building Project Requirements

    The following steps are provided to assist in the review and approval of a project with a building that meets one of the Green Building Practices ordinance thresholds:

    Pre-Plan Check Steps:

    1. Retain the services of a LEED Accredited Professional as part of the design team
    2. Register the building with the USGBC
    3. Discuss City requirements and plan review procedures with the City’s LEED AP consultant
    4. Obtain City forms for LEED review at the Permit Center or online

    Initial Plan Check Submittal (typical turn around time 30 days)  

    1. Incorporate the applicable LEED checklist as a sheet in the plan sets indicating points meeting at a minimum LEED Certified level (LEED checklist must be signed and dated by the project LEED AP). Provide a three point margin for credits that might be compromised during construction.
    2. Submit required number of plans for review (the City’s LEED AP consultant will receive one set of plans)
    3. Submit one set of documents in support of LEED credits (e.g. Title 24 modeling, specifications, LEED templates or access to LEED templates on line)
    4. Submit the appropriate Pasadena LEED checklist:
  • Note:

    • All building documents must indicate in the general notes, specifications, and/or individual detail drawings, where feasible, the green building measures employed to attain the applicable LEED rating.
    • Plans submitted that do not provide the required information for green building review will be returned as incomplete.

    Plan Check Corrections:

    1. Upon completion of the Green Building review, the city’s LEED consultant will provide comments on why or why not the LEED points indicated have been approved on the Pasadena Plan Check LEED checklist reference guide.
    2. If the minimum number of points have not been approved the applicant must make corrections and submit for re-check (typical turn around time 14 days).
    3. If the project passes Green Building review and no changes to the points will be impacted by any other department corrections, the project can submit for final sign off (FSO).

    Final Sign-Off

    1. The City’s LEED AP will review the plans and sign-off if no changes have been made to the project (typical turn around time seven days)
    2. The City will retain a hard copy of the project’s LEED templates for its record


    1. The City’s Building inspectors will perform normal building inspections.
    2. It is the applicant’s responsibility to notify the city of changes in the field that impact LEED points and to seek remedial action and city approval immediately.
    3. If discrepancies or changes to LEED credits occur during construction the City may issue a stop-work order if the project LEED points are below the minimum number (the City recommends a three point margin to avoid this situation).


    The Green Building Development Guide provides architects, developers, Green Building Devolpment Guide Coverproperty owners and others developing property in Pasadena an understanding  of the relationship between the city of Pasadena's Green Building Practices Ordinance (Pasadena Municipal Code Chapter 14.90) and the US Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Building Rating System. The intent of the guide is to explain Pasadena's plan check review and submittal requirements as it pertain to each LEED credit.

    Permit Center Plans submittal checklists


  • Green Building Incentives

     As an incentive to building green, the City offers LEED Accredited Professional experts to guide new projects through the green building review at no cost to the project applicant. For more information on this program contact a plans examiner at the City’s Building Division - 626 744 4200.Old Town Alley

     After a building is completed, the City offers $1,000 rebates for each affordable housing unit provided in a green building. This is above and beyond other affordable housing incentives offered by the City.

    The City’s Water and Power Department offers a variety of incentives, assistance, and rebates for green buildings and energy and water saving features.

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Water Usage Gauge