Frequently Asked Questions

This section contains construction and demolition (C&D) waste diversion related questions frequently asked by stake holders involved in the C&D diversion process (e.g. cities, counties, contractors, recyclers, etc). This section will be updated regularly, so if you have any C&D diversion-related questions that you would like addressed, please send them to

California Green Building Standards Code | C&D Waste Diversion Ordinance

California Green Building Standards Code

California’s Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen) requires the diversion of at least 65 percent of the construction waste generated during most “new construction” projects (CALGreen Sections 4.408 and 5.408). Please see this table to see what the current requirements are.  Please remember, this does not represent a complete list of requirements and contact your local building department for more information. For more information on CALGreen, see the following questions.

C&D Waste Diversion Ordinance

The following are questions most frequently posed to CalRecycle by local government solid waste officials during the development of their own C&D waste diversion ordinance.

California Green Building Code

Where can I find a copy of the code?

The California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen) is part 11 of Title 24, California Code of Regulations. The CALGreen code is published by the International Code Council (ICC) and is available on its website, along with other parts of the California Building Standards Code. The applicable sections for residential construction can be found in Section 4.408 and in Section 5.408 for most non-residential new construction. Sections 301.1.1 and 301.3 addresses additions and alterations diversion requirements.

What are the code’s waste diversion requirements?

Covered occupancies are required to divert 65 percent of the construction waste materials generated during the project. The code also allows a disposal reduction option that can be met when the project’s disposal rate is 2 lbs. per square foot or less for non-residential and high rise residential or 3.4 lbs. per square foot or less for low-rise residential.

Which types of construction occupancies are covered under CALGreen?

The code applies to various occupancies and types. Please see this table for general requirements for each type.  For specifics on the code’s scope, see Section 101.3. Also see Section 101.11 for a list of steps that can be used to determine which sections apply to each type of occupancy.

What changes does the 2019 update make to CALGreen?

No changes were made to the construction waste management requirements. Please see this table for a summary of the 2016 & 2019 waste management requirements.

Who is responsible for enforcing CALGreen?

Agencies currently enforcing building codes for the covered occupancies are responsible for applicable enforcement of CALGreen.

If city/county building departments are responsible for implementing the updated California Green Building Standards Code, please explain the level of involvement required by recycling coordinators?

CALGreen does not address the level of involvement required by recycling coordinators. It is up to each jurisdiction to determine what programs are available to divert at least 65 percent of waste from covered construction projects. Building departments, building owners, and builders are strongly encouraged to work with their jurisdiction’s recycling coordinator or solid waste staff because they are the local recycling market and infrastructure experts. Recycling coordinators are encouraged to report how their city/county is implementing the code for inclusion in the AB 939 Annual Report.

What flexibility does a jurisdiction have when applying CALGreen?

The code includes exceptions to the requirements of Sections 4.408 and 5.408. The exceptions generally apply if adequate diversion facilities do not exist (exception 2 to sections §4.408.1 and 5.408.1.1, 5.408.1.2, 5.713.8.1.1, and 5.713.8.1.2). Each of these exceptions allows a reduced or alternate compliance requirement. There is an exception for demolition waste diversion in consideration of local recycling facilities and markets for non-residential occupancies (Exception 3 to 5.408.1.1 and 5.408.1.2). CalRecycle recommends that the recycling coordinator collaborate with their building departments/ inspectors to develop any appropriate exemptions. This will also provide the recycling coordinator information they can include in the AB 939 Annual Report to CalRecycle.

Does CALGreen apply to both demolition permits and construction permits?

CALGreen applies to new construction, demolition associated with the construction permit, and to some additions and alterations, please see this table to determine which additions or alterations are covered.

What if our local ordinance has a higher diversion requirement than 65 percent?

CALGreen allows for either a 65 percent diversion requirement or the local requirements, whichever are more stringent. CALGreen does not require jurisdictions to adopt a local C&D ordinance.

Is there is a minimum size project to which the code applies?

Yes and No.

  • CALGreen’s waste diversion requirement applies to projects that require a construction or building permit from a local agency. It also applies to residential additions and alteration of existing buildings where the building’s conditioned area, volume, or size increases.

Our C&D diversion ordinance requires recycling on all new construction with a specific cost and/or square footage threshold. Does our jurisdiction still need to implement CALGreen?

Yes, the requirements of CALGreen may be more (or less) restrictive than a current local C&D ordinance. Jurisdictions shall enforce their own more restrictive requirements (local ordinance) or the CALGreen Code, regardless of cost or size triggers. Jurisdictions can choose to amend its ordinance or inform stakeholders in some manner, e.g., when they apply for their building permit. A jurisdiction might also include information on its website. It could also include a note on its existing ordinance about CALGreen and how it affects new construction.

If my jurisdiction does not have an ordinance or policy, then must we still implement CALGreen?

Yes, CALGreen applies on a statewide basis, and the waste diversion and planning are required unless the exemptions (see response to question RE: jurisdiction flexibility) from those requirements apply.

If the jurisdiction is required to use the 65 percent number, can we implement some sort of review of projects that don’t report 65 percent and grant “good faith effort” compliance for builders who implement a recycling program but just didn’t generate enough recyclable materials to hit the 65 percent?

CALGreen requires builders/owners to divert 65 percent of the waste from covered projects. This can be met through three methods: 1) develop and submit a waste management plan to the jurisdiction’s enforcement agency which identifies materials and facilities to be used and document diversion, 2) use a waste management company, approved by the enforcing agency, that can document 65 percent diversion, or 3) use the disposal reduction alternative, as appropriate for the type of project. If the waste management plan option is used, the plan should be developed before construction begins, and project managers should use the project’s planning phase to estimate materials that will be generated and identify diversion strategies for those materials. The code provides for exceptions (see response to question above) and the project’s planning phase would be an appropriate time to work with the jurisdiction’s enforcement agency and recycling coordinator to establish the best route to compliance or to determine if an exception is warranted. All covered projects should be able to divert 65 percent non-hazardous waste.

The Building Standards Commission has developed “Guide to the (Non-Residential) California Green Building Standards Code” to provide information on CALGreen. The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has developed suggested methods and compliance forms as options for residential builders and owners to demonstrate compliance with the 65 percent or greater construction waste reduction requirement. These methods are currently available in HCD’s “A Guide to the California Green Building Standards Code.” Additional methods will be added as they are developed. Some projects may not generate significant amounts of waste materials. To address these situations, CALGreen includes methods to demonstrate compliance based upon disposal reduction. CALGreen Guidebooks and reference materials are available on the CALGreen website.

Does our jurisdiction have the flexibility to exempt projects such as pool construction or installation of small, prefabricated buildings?

The California Building Code provides permit exemptions in Chapter 1, Administration, Section 105.2 Work Exempt from Permit, which may be further modified by your city or county. (Similar exemptions are in Section R105.2 of the California Residential Code.) One example from this list includes, “one-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet (11 m2).” Pool construction, if constructed as part of a new building, may be covered by this code. An existing building with a new pool would not be regulated. HCD’s CALGreen provisions for “low-rise residential” apply to buildings and do not apply to swimming pools or detached accessory structures. Always check with your local code enforcement office to determine specific requirements.

How does CALGreen apply to residential re-roofs?

Under the strict scope of CALGreen, a normal re-roof that neither increases the building’s conditioned area, volume, nor size, would not be subject to the requirements of the code. Some jurisdictions may, however, include such projects in local ordinances or adopted codes. It is always best to check with the local enforcing agency.

Does CALGreen apply to school or hospital construction projects?

Yes and no.

Hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, licensed clinics and correctional treatment centers that are regulated by the Office of Statewide Health Planning & Development (OSHPD) are covered by the CALGreen sections adopted by that agency. Currently, OSHPD has not adopted any mandatory CALGreen measures relating to construction or demolition waste management.

The Division of the State Architect (DSA) has enforcement authority for all public elementary and secondary schools (K-12) and public Community Colleges. DSA has adopted sections 5.408.1 through 5.408.3 as mandatory.

To review all the requirements, view the CALGreen Construction Waste Management Requirements Table.

C&D Waste Diversion Ordinance

Are cities mandated by SB 1374 to adopt CalRecycle’s Model C&D Waste Diversion Ordinance?

No, CalRecycle’s C&D model ordinance was developed as a tool for jurisdictional use. In earlier versions of SB 1374, jurisdictions were mandated to adopt the model C&D diversion ordinance. However, in the final chaptered bill, this requirement was taken out.

How can a city determine a threshold for its C&D Ordinance?

A threshold is a set ‘target’ for a city. The threshold will list projects that must comply with the C&D diversion ordinance. A city can choose which project to target. Projects can be targeted by project cost or type. To get the largest amount of C&D debris out of the waste stream, jurisdictions could look at building permits and determine what types of projects, or what project cost amounts generate the most waste. Once the highest and/or most frequently occurring projects generating C&D waste have been identified, a city then could set its threshold in a way that captures the most C&D waste and target these projects for diversion.

Could a city that is looking to adopt a C&D ordinance save time by just finding another city of similar size and conditions that has already adopted an ordinance, and adopt it?

Every city is different, and each waste stream is different. If a city is considering adoption of a C&D ordinance, while it may benefit by knowing about how C&D ordinances are working in neighboring or similar jurisdictions, it should base their ordinance on conditions specific to the city. The city should identify its infrastructure and know its own waste stream and then tailor the ordinance to its diversion needs.

How is a diversion rate set in an ordinance?

A diversion rate can be set for C&D materials overall, or by material type. CalRecycle’s model ordinance recommends 65 percent and above for overall C&D diversion, but a city has the option to set the rate as long as it complies with CALGreen’s construction waste management requirements.

C&D Diversion Guide Home | References and Resources

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