Green Building

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What is Green Building?

greenbuilding190Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle and includes decisions about a structure’s location, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Green building is also known as sustainable or high performance building. While building green applies mainly to new structures, existing homes can become green buildings through upgrades and retrofits.

Why Build Green?

Green buildings are healthy and energy- and resource-efficient from the inside out.

  • Green homes are efficient: daylighting and low-energy light bulbs help keep lighting costs low and insulation and efficient heating and cooling systems keep temperature control costs low. EnergyStar appliances cost less to operate.
  • Green homes use less water: aerating faucets keep wasted sink and shower water to a minimum; high-efficiency toilets use less water with each flush; a high-efficiency washing machine uses 40% less water than a standard machine; and drought-resistant landscaping requires less irrigation water.
  • Green homes are often more pleasant to live in with better indoor air quality as a result of healthier building materials and better ventilation.
  • Green buildings also tend to encourage mixed-use development leading to walkable neighborhoods where shopping, services, and schools are available within walking or cycling distance.

Green Building Ordinance

The purpose of Union City’s Green Building Ordinance is to create a more environmentally and economically sustainable community by incorporating green measures into the design, construction, demolition, renovation, operation, and maintenance of buildings within the City. Municipal Code Chapter 15.76 establishes requirements for green building and landscaping practices to be used in City-sponsored, public partnership, and privately funded development projects. These green building and landscaping practices are designed to reduce landfill waste, conserve natural resources, increase energy efficiency, lower costs associated with operations and maintenance, improve indoor air quality, and minimize impacts on the natural environment.

The following chart provides an overview of what is required for City-sponsored projects and private development projects under Chapter 15.76 Green Building and Landscaping Practices.


Covered Projects

Standards for Compliance

City-Sponsored and Public Partnership Projects


Building projects over $3 million

Obtain LEED Silver certification

Landscape projects over 5,000 square feet

Meet the minimum Bay-friendly landscaping scorecard points recommended by Stopwaste.Org

Privately Funded Projects


Additions or remodels over 500 square feet

Mandatory meeting with staff and submittal of GreenPoint Rated checklist prior to building permit issuance

New single family or secondary dwellings

Obtain GreenPoint Rated certification prior to issuance of Certificate of Occupancy

New multifamily or mixed-use buildings

Obtain GreenPoint Rated certification prior to issuance of Certificate of Occupancy


New construction, additions, or remodels over 1,000 square feet

Comply with applicable measures on Green Building in Alameda County Small Commercial Green Building Checklist

GreenPoint Rated

The GreenPoint rating system, developed by Build It Green, is like a report card or nutrition label for green homes. It demonstrates that a new home or remodel was built to trusted environmental standards and evaluated by a certified GreenPoint Rater. The City requires all new residences, including in-law units, to be GreenPoint Rated.

  • More Information: Click here for more information on the GreenPoint Rated system for new homes
  • Checklists: Click here to access GreenPoint Rated checklists
  • Certified GreenPoint Raters: Click here to find a certified GreenPoint Rater


LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is redefining the way we think about the places where we live, work and learn. As an internationally recognized mark of excellence,LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

The LEED ratings system was developed by the US Green Building Council in 2000 through an open, consensus-based process led by LEED committees and is continually developed and improved. See the USGBC’s LEED website to learn more.

Small Commercial Green Building Checklist

Stopwaste.Org has developed a green building checklist to address new construction and renovations/expansion projects that would have difficulty achieving full LEED certification due to their size or scope. Compliance with the Small Commercial Green Building Checklist is required for all non-residential projects (tenant improvements, remodels, additions, and new construction) affecting an area of 1,000 square feet or more.