Green Buildingtree sappling

A green building is sited, designed, constructed and operated to enhance the well being of its occupants and to support a healthy community and natural environment. Green building and remodeling makes your home healthier and more comfortable, saves on utility bills, and improves resale values. While you can take steps to green your home any time, remodels offer opportunities to go deeper and make even more rewarding improvements.

To learn more about how to integrate sustainability into your next project, check out the Green Building Guides and see what the City of Berkeley mandates as part of its Green Building Requirements.

Energy Efficiency: Improved comfort and lower energy
An energy-efficient house reduces greenhouse gas emissions, lowers utility bills, and improves comfort.

  • Caulk and weatherstrip all areas adjacent to outside or unheated space
  • Check heating ducts for leaks and seal with foil or mastic approved for heating ducts
  • Use energy efficient lighting such as CFLs (available in a range of colors)
  • Replace old, inefficient appliances with new energy-efficient models – Energy Star when available
  • Replace single-pane windows with double-paned
  • Replace or coat roof surface with highly reflective roof material or "cool roof"
  • For more tips, contact PG&E or see Energy

Solar: Use renewable energy
Generate electricity from sunlight and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Conduct an energy audit and install energy efficiency measures first; reduce before you produce
  • Contact SmartSolar (local nonprofit), for free, independent advice on solar

Water Conservation: Protection and conservation of water supplies
Reducing water consumption conserves limited water supplies and saves energy. Controlling stormwater protects the San Francisco Bay and our local creeks and watersheds.

  • Retrofit all existing toilets and faucets and install ultra-low flow models
  • Look for Energy Star qualified appliances
  • Landscape with native and drought-tolerant plant and pervious hardscape
  • For more tips, contact EBMUD and Bay Friendly Gardening

Healthy Indoor Environment: Breathe clean, fresh air
Reducing pollutants inside the home creates a safe, pleasant and healthy environment.

  • Use no- or low-VOC paint, wood-finishes, carpeting and adhesives
  • Look for low or no formaldehyde building materials
  • Protect building materials from moisture to reduce the risk of mold
  • Ensure there is proper ventilation, especially of gas combustion appliances 

Waste Reduction and Resource Conservation:
Conservation of building materials and careful handling of construction and demolition debris saves valuable resources such as wood and landfill space.

  • Use efficient design, such as advanced framing techniques
  • Specify durable roofing materials with 40-50 year warrantees
  • Specify reclaimed and recycled products
  • Reuse or recycle materials whenever possible
  • Use sustainably harvested wood and other materials
  • For more tips, see Zero Waste  

Green Building Agencies

City of Berkeley Office of Energy and Sustainable Development
Learn about green building requirements and check out green permit guides.

Build It Green 
Consider getting your remodel green certified, see Green Building Guidelines and Rating Systems

Green Point Rated Product Directory
The Green Product Directory is a local, unbiased resource for green home improvement products and tips.

U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
Consider getting your project LEED green certified.

Green Building in Alameda County
Green building resources for the general public, design & building professionals, & public agencies.

PG&E
Savings By Design offers no-cost design assistance, analysis and resources to help building owners and design teams with energy-efficient building design. Find incentives at PG&E rebates.

East Bay Municiple Utility District (EBMUD)
Check out water efficient products and tips.

StopWaste
Find out where to recycle any item, learn about rebates from Energy Upgrade California, and about Bay Friendly Gardening.


 Back to the Office of Energy and Sustainable Development Homepage