California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Sustainable (Green) Building: Project Design

Sustainable Building Guidelines

The following compilation of national green building guidelines includes performance or prescriptive instructions for designers and builders to use in construction projects. These instructions address materials use, design principles, and construction techniques.

Guidelines Using a Whole Building Approach

Title Sponsor, Host, or Author Description of Document Date Published
Multiple-Building Types
Oakland Sustainable Design Guide Based on the research conducted for the Minnesota Sustainable Design Guide A guide through the building life cycle including a description of the process, ideas for strategies, example documents, and case studies. 2001
San Mateo Countywide Guide-Sustainable Buildings (PDF 2.6MB) San Mateo County Green building guidelines and checklist for commercial/industrial, tenant improvement, multi-family housing, and single family housing. 2004
Sustainable Building Technical Manual Public Technologies Inc., the U.S. Green Building Council, and the U.S. Department of Energy Guidelines for energy- and resource-efficient building during predesign, design, construction, operations, and maintenance. 1996
Whole Building Design Guide National Institute of Building Sciences Design guidance, criteria, and technology. 2001
Commercial and Public Buildings
LEEDtm v2.1 for New Construction and Major Renovation United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Consensus based Green Building rating system designed for commercial projects with a focus on office buildings. 2002, (Revised 2003)
CaliforniaTier 1 and Tier 2 Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Building Measures Checklists
(MS Word, 220 KB)
(PDF, 823 KB)
State of California's Sustainable Building Technical Group These checklists are updated annually and attached to the Department of General Services' Standard Contract for Architectural and Engineering Services, Exhibit C: Tiers. Items on Tier 1 have been evaluated as "cost effective" and are to be incorporated into projects when part of the project scope, whereas items on Tier 2 may or may not be cost effective, but should be considered for inclusion, and if included, analysis provided. Checklists include a few performance standards, but are more prescriptive in nature. 2002
CaliforniaEnergy Efficiency and Sustainable Building Performance Goals (LEED)
(MS Word, 76 KB)
(PDF, 109 KB)
State of California's Sustainable Building Technical Group Performance goals that require analysis of USGBC's LEED rating system as it applies to design and construction of applicable State construction projects. This document is also attached to the Department of General Services' Standard Contract for Architectural and Engineering Services, Exhibit C: LEED. 2002
Municipal Guidelines City of Austin Design specifications and operations and maintenance practices for city staff and contract designers. 1994
Residential Construction
New Home Construction Alameda County Waste Management Authority Guidelines for new home construction. 2005
Florida Green Home Designation Standard Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) Voluntary standards for qualification and certification for Green Home designation.


Multiple-Family Housing Alameda County Waste Management Authority Comprehensive resource for architects and project managers with 63 recommended measures and 8 case studies. 2008
Green Building Resource Manual for Affordable Housing (PDF, 1.1MB) City of Portland A resource guide to improving environmental performance, tenant health and long-term durability in affordable housing. 2002
Schools and Higher Educational Facilities
CHPS Best Practices Manual Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) A manual including three volumes: Volumes I and II are planning and design guidelines and Volume III, "Criteria," is a self-certification rating system for high performance schools. 2001
Stanford University's Guidelines for Sustainable Building Stanford University The Guideline is intended to serve as both a communication and working tool that aids in planning, design, and construction of new buildings and renovations with an appropriate level of attention to economic, ecological, and social concerns. 2002


Guidelines on Environmental and Public Health Issues

Energy | Indoor Air Quality | Materials | Toxics | Water

Title Sponsor, Host, or Author Description of Document Date Published
Energy Efficiency Standards for State Buildings: Tier 1 (MS Word, 227 KB) California Energy Commission Provides a prescriptive approach to achieve minimum energy efficiency requirements, which demonstrate compliance with Title 24 (1998) and a goal that all new state buildings consume at least 20% less energy than a minimally compliant building. (This same study translates into around 13 percent better than 2001 Title 24) This approach has been proven to have a payback period of less than 5 years. 2000
Electric and Magnetic Fields School Design Checklist- California Department of Health Services A discussion of practical, "no- and low-cost" techniques for minimizing exposure to magnetic fields in new and remodeled school buildings. Aimed at school facility planners, decision-makers, and architects. 2001
Design Guide for Energy-Efficient Laboratories Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory This tool helps facility owners, architects, engineers, designers, and facility managers identify and apply energy-efficiency features in laboratory-type environments. 1996
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Title Sponsor, Host, or Author Description of Document Date Published
Building Air Quality: A Guide for Building Owners and Facility Managers Environmental Protection Agency Practical suggestions on preventing, identifying, and resolving indoor air quality (IAQ) problems in public and commercial buildings. 1991
Guidance on Indoor Air Quality Issues California Department of Health Services Guidelines, fact sheets, and other on: mold, VOCs, asbestos, indoor ozone, radon, tobacco smoke; IAQ in schools, the workplace, and home; and hiring and IAQ specialist. 2001
Reducing Occupant Exposure to VOCs From Office Building Construction Materials: Non-binding Guidelines California Department of Health Services Guidelines 1996
Title Sponsor, Host, or Author Description of Document Date Published
Materials selection CalRecycle Information on product selection criteria. 2000
Recycling at construction sites CalRecycle Information on recycling various construction materials including: asphalt, carpet, drywall, lumber, and roofing. 2000
Recycling Space Allocation Guide CalRecycle Guidelines to assist local agencies in developing ordinances. 1993
Title Sponsor, Host, or Author Description of Document Date Published
Pest Management and Identification University of California/Davis Official guidelines for pest monitoring techniques, pesticides, and nonpesticide alternatives for managing pests in homes and landscapes. 2001
Title Sponsor, Host, or Author Description of Document Date Published
Guidelines for Preparing an Engineering Report for the Production, Distribution, and Use of Recycled Water California Department of Health Services Guidelines. 2001


Information adapted from a report developed by VITETTA Public Management Consulting in association with Natural Strategies, Inc.

Performance Standards | Project Design | Green Building Home

Last updated: December 3, 2014
Green Building
Greg Dick:  (916) 341-6489