Top Navigation

Archive | California

Labor Law Issues May Begin to Impact Green Construction

There have been a couple of interesting articles recently that suggest the pending intersection of labor law and green building. First, you probably read about a complaint that was recently filed with the NLRB by workers who attempted to unionize while installing a green roof on the Target Center in Minneapolis. In addition to alleging a number of safety violations, the workers claimed that the contractor paid them the prevailing wage for landscapers- not for roofers, who earn $20 more per hour. The $5.3 million installation was a city project, and officials, along with OSHA, investigated the workers’ safety concerns earlier in the spring, finding that “the contractors lived up to the specifications of the contract to ensure safety.” From a prevailing wage rate perspective, is the installation of a green roof more akin to landscaping than roofing? This was the contractor’s argument and, I think, a neat example of how green construction practices continue to introduce legal wrinkles into even the most traditional of practice areas. However, what got me thinking a bit more seriously about the intersection of green building and labor law was an article (link after the jump) discussing the California Labor Federation’s two-day conference held earlier this month in San Francisco.

Continue Reading 1

SB 1473: El Dorado County Fighting California Green Building Legislation

In the aftermath of last year’s AHRI et al. v. City of Albuquerque litigation, there has been an increased level of discussion with respect to how municipalities and states should craft green building policy and legislation. Although I have not been following what’s been taking place in California all that closely, a recent article in the Sacramento Bee noting one California county’s reaction to a newly enacted piece of state-level green building legislation caught my eye. California’s Senate Bill 1473 took effect on January 1 and requires cities and counties in California to collect, on behalf of California’s Building Standards Commission, a building permit application fee. The fee is based on the building’s valuation as determined by the pertinent local building official and is assessed at $1.00 for every $25,000.00 of value. Cities and counties are entitled to keep up to 10 percent of the fee in order to cover their own administrative and enforcement costs; the rest of the funds are sent to a special revolving fund established by SB 1473 which the Commission will use to “fund development of statewide building standards, with emphasis on green building standards.” Officials in El Dorado County (which is about halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe) believe that the fee is illegal, calling it “a tax without calling it a tax.”

Continue Reading 0

New Law in California Links Transportation Funding to Smart Growth*

The Golden State’s hotly debated Climate Change Smart Growth Bill, or SB375, which links land use and transportation planning with climate change, will change the way California communities are built and help provide residents a pedestrian-friendly lifestyle near jobs, shopping and entertainment and could ultimately serve as a blueprint for similar pieces of legislation in other states.

Continue Reading 0

Trio of CA Green Building Bills Await Arnold’s Action by Oct. 12

Three green building bills are currently awaiting Governor Schwarzenegger’s signature out in Sacramento. If he approves them before an October 12 deadline, Democrat-sponsored Assembly Bills (“AB”) 888 and 1058 would apply to certain commercial and residential buildings throughout California, while AB 35 would also require state buildings to meet similar green building standards. AB 888 […]

Continue Reading 0

Is LEED Legislation- Whether Public or Private- Undemocratic?

In an article written earlier this week, Dan Walters, a columnist at the Sacramento Bee, articulated his concerns over a LEED-driven green public building regulatory scheme by calling such legislation “part of a broader legislative tendency to avoid tough policy decisions by shifting them to unaccountable outside organizations.” Walters was writing with respect to California’s […]

Continue Reading 0

Private Green Building Mandate Debate Surfaces in Palo Alto

There’s a great article in the latest issue of Building Design + Construction that provides some insight into the carrot versus stick debate with respect to municipal green building mandates. Palo Alto’s City Council is currently considering how, and if, it should institute green building requirements for private projects. (Currently, Palo Alto requires public projects […]

Continue Reading 0

California Proposes Ban on Incandescent Light Bulbs

The State of California has once again taken the lead through its proposed How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb Act, which would ban incandescent light bulbs by 2012. California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine is expected to introduce the legislation this week. Incandescent light bulbs are inefficient because they convert only about five […]

Continue Reading 0

Napa Valley Hotel Demonstrates Dangers to Developers Posed by LEED Creep

In the wake of the D.C. Council passing significant LEED legislation last week, there’s been substantial commentary about how positive the bill is for green building at large. While I agree that the legislation is certainly a step in the right direction, a recent post I wrote about the D.C. mandate describes what the BD+C […]

Continue Reading 5