Cal Green – California’s Newest Building Code

The importance of acoustics is often forgotten until a building is completed. However, the 2010 California Green Building Standards Code (CalGreen Code) which took effect January 1, 2011 made it mandatory for all new construction in California (non-residential and residential up to three stories) to comply with certain acoustical control standards. Why should you care – especially if you do not live or work in California? Well when it comes to building codes, as California goes, so does the rest of the country – at some point. The CalGreen Code is the 11th part of the California Code of Regulations, Title 24, held by the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) and contains five categories addressing sustainable construction. Acoustics is addressed under the fifth category: Environmental Quality.

Standard 5.507.4 Acoustical Control is mandatory for all new non-residential buildings and addresses both exterior noise and interior sound.

• The exterior noise measure requires buildings within 1000 feet of freeways, within 5 miles of most airports, or with property lines within sound levels regularly exceeding 65 dB to have a building envelop with a minimum rating of STC 50 and exterior windows with a minimum rating of STC 30.

• The interior sound measure requires wall and floor-ceiling assemblies separating tenant spaces from other tenant spaces or public spaces to have a minimum rating of STC 40.

Standard 5.507.5 addresses voluntary acoustical control measures for public schools and community colleges and follows the LEED for Schools design guidelines, addressing background noise levels and reverberation times. So it is now, at least in California, no longer enough to be green or sustainable. The CBSC now requires that the acoustical environment be addressed when buildings are sited in noisy areas so that sound levels are kept low enough to carry out activities without the distraction or discomfort of unwanted noise. We’d be happy to answer any questions regarding the acoustics portion of the code click here to contact us.

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