Green Building Standards Help Reduce Water Consumption, Greenhouse Gas Emissions


Even when our region is not experiencing a drought, water conservation is at the top of mind in San Diego County.

The County’s 2018 Climate Action Plan (2018 CAP) includes a measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) related to residential water use: Measure W-1.1, Increase Water Efficiency in New Residential Development. By 2030, implementation of Measure W-1.1 will reduce 87 metric tons of CO2 equivalent GHG emissions. In addition to these emission reduction benefits, implementation of this measure will also improve regional water quality, reduce water and energy utility costs, and improve air quality and biological resources.

Drought map of CaliforniaBeige “Moderate Drought” and orange “Severe Drought”

Water savings by this measure are achieved through the California Green Building Code (CALGreen) Tier 1 Voluntary Standards. Specifically, the CALGreen Tier 1 Voluntary Standards require the installation of water-efficient appliances, such as “Energy Star” rated appliances and plumbing fixtures, in all new residential development. Last year, the Board of Supervisors (Board) acted on an ordinance update that adopts the Tier 1 Voluntary Standards.

After two readings in November and December 2020, the Board adopted the Ordinance Amending Title 9, Division 7, Chapter 1 of the San Diego County Code of Regulatory Ordinances (County Green Building Code) Related to Increasing Water Efficiency in New Residential Development. This ordinance update sets standards and requirements on kitchen faucets and appliances for all new residential development, alterations, repairs, or reconstruction in the unincorporated county, exceeding the base requirements of CALGreen. You can follow the progress of Measure W-1.1 and all other emissions reductions measures as they are updated each year in the County’s annual Report on Climate Action Plan Progress.

Kitchen sink
Water efficient appliances and plumbing fixture
Washer and dryer