SACRAMENTO, CA — California approved on Jan. 13 the most stringent, eco-friendly statewide building code in the United States, according to USA Today.

The new code, which won a unanimous vote by the state building commission and will apply to new homes, hospitals, schools and shopping malls, takes effect January 2011. Dubbed “Calgreen,” it requires builders to divert 50% of construction waste from landfills to recycling, use low-pollutant paints, carpets and floorings and install water-saving plumbing fixtures.

It will also allow local jurisdictions, such as San Francisco, to retain their stricter existing green building standards, or they can adopt more stringent versions of the state code.

The code was supported by the state Chamber of Commerce, as well as many builders and realtors, who argued it would only slightly increase construction costs. It also was backed by GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger but opposed by private groups with green-rating programs including the U.S. Green Building Council, which argued it could lead to myriad standards and confusion.

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