County of Marin - News Releases - Green Building Codes

For Immediate Release
March 13, 2018

County’s Green Building Requirements Enhanced

Board of Supervisors approves more aggressive goals on sustainable practices

San Rafael, CA – The County of Marin has a long history of promoting sustainable “green” building practices to increase energy efficiency in homes and businesses throughout the county. Now, the Marin County Board of Supervisors has taken additional steps to require enhanced energy efficiency and green building measures for new construction, additions, and remodels in the unincorporated County.

A solar array on the roof of a county-owned building in San Rafael.A solar array on the roof of the County's Health and Human Services building at 120 North Redwood Drive in San Rafael.
The Board’s adoption of the new ordinance at its March 13 meeting replaced a chapter of the Marin County Code’s building code. These standards will remain in place until the 2019 California Building Standards Code goes into place on January 1, 2020.

After working with staff from the Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA), the Board approved six primary changes with the goal of making buildings more efficient, comfortable and affordable. They are:

  • Clarify requirements by separating energy efficiency measures from green building measures;
  • Establish performance-based energy saving requirements, rather than mandatory prescriptive measures, for new construction;
  • Add an all-electric building option for new construction to reduce emissions from natural gas use;
  • Streamline designated green building project tiers to reduce complexities;
  • Create more stringent energy efficiency requirements for homes of more than 4,000 square feet, and;
  • Increase requirements for electric vehicle (EV) charging preparedness to reduce barriers to purchasing an EV.

CDA Director Brian Crawford said the new standards are a way for the County to implement its 2015 Climate Action Plan, which also sets greenhouse gas reduction targets greater than the state of California. In its 2006 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan, the County set an emissions reduction target of 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The goal was reached by 2012, eight years ahead of schedule. Now, the County has a target of reducing community greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and reducing municipal emissions to 15 percent below 1990 levels.

In 2017, the County switched all municipal electricity accounts to Deep Green 100 percent renewable energy, which allowed Marin to exceed its municipal emission reduction goal. Current municipal emissions are estimated to be 19 percent below 1990 levels.

“We’re being ambitious and pushing the envelope by requiring these measures through the building permitting process,” Crawford said.

Marin is one of fewer than 15 jurisdictions in California that have set both green building and energy efficiency standards that exceed those created by the state. The County has required residential projects to comply with increased green building and energy efficiency goals since 2002.

Learn more on the County’s website about sustainability goals, green building program, Climate Action Plan, and energy programs.


Alice Zanmiller
Planner, Sustainability Team
Community Development Agency

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 308
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-2797
Email: Alice Zanmiller
CDA Sustainability website