Comparing California CALGreen to Maine’s new energy code

June 1, 2011

In Maine, where I worked as a builder for many years, an anomaly was the complete lack of any building code in many rural communities. There were often calls for a statewide code, and even for licensing of contractors. The fierce independence of Mainers and the sense that if a fisherman or a logger wanted to build his own home on family property he had every right to do that, private property rights, prevailed.

In communities with below 2000 population following the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code is not required.  In towns where the local Code Enforcement Officer ( if there is one ) decides to enforce MUBEC the following codes are included.

  • IBC 2009 International Building Code
  • IEBC 2009 International Existing Building Code
  • IRC 2009 International Residential Code
  • IECC 2009 International Energy Conservation Code
  • The ASHRAE Standards 62.1, 62.2 and 90.1 ( 2007)
  • The Maine model radon standard

Details of the Maine code can be found here:

There are many interesting differences between Maine and California.  In truth, for all the complexity of the California codes and the now required CALGreen code, local code authorities can choose how to monitor AND enforce the requirements. The Tier 1 CALGreen code does not include energy standards, those are left to the California Energy Commission Title 24, which is roughly equivalent to the ASHRAE 90.1 2004.

In many ways a uniform code makes good sense, but Maine’s rural communities have enjoyed an architectural freedom rare anywhere else today. They follow the uniform plumbing code and the fire code…Maine is not California where the overpopulation and sprawl of the last fifty years make CALGreen and AB32 necessary. Maine builders and architects have been building more efficient and better designed structures than the SouthWest by an order of magnitude because of a commitment to craft and quality. Do we really need to legislate “minimums” that will then become the bar no one wants to exceed? In California, interest in LEED is declining because there is a green building code, although the code provides a considerably lower standard. Rural Mainers have been building off grid net zero homes without a code requirement.  I’m just saying…

See more discussion of the Maine legislation and an upcoming hearing. The Maine USGBC supports the statewide MUBEC and it’s easy to see why.
But sometimes codes create a “ do not exceed” mindset and I am an advocate for judgement, integrity that is not legislated but comes from a culture of quality.

2 Responses to “Comparing California CALGreen to Maine’s new energy code”

  1. Mindy Black Says:

    Shouldn’t your title read CALGreen rather than GALGreen?

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