California Green Building Code, CALGreen – Construction waste diversion

Construction waste constitutes a large percentage of the total waste produced by the state. For this reason, California is enforcing diversion of construction waste from the landfill. This can be done either by recycling or reusing the building material elsewhere. This is a mandatory measure for both Residential and Non-Residential buildings. The code language is as follows. 

CALGreen Code Section 5.408.1: Construction waste diversion. 

Recycle and/or salvage for reuse a minimum of 65 percent of the non-hazardous construction and demolition waste in accordance with Section 5.408.1.1, 5.408.1.2 or 5.408.1.3; or meet a local construction and demolition waste management ordinance, whichever is more stringent.

CALGreen Code Section 5.408.1.1: Construction waste management plan. 

Where a local jurisdiction does not have a construction and demolition waste management ordinance that is more stringent, submit a construction waste management plan that:

1. Identifies the construction and demolition waste materials to be diverted from disposal by efficient usage, recycling, reuse on the project or salvage for future use or sale.

2. Indicates if construction and demolition waste materials will be sorted on-site (source separated) or bulk mixed (single stream).

3. Identifies diversion facilities where construction and demolition waste material collected will be taken.

4. Specifies that the amount of construction waste and demolition materials diverted shall be calculated by weight or volume, but not by both.

CALGreen Code Section 5.408.1.2: Waste management company. 

Utilize a waste management company that can provide verifiable documentation that the percentage of construction and demolition waste material diverted from the land fill complies with this section.

Note: The owner or contractor shall make the determination if the construction and demolition waste material will be diverted by a waste management company.

Exceptions to 5.408.1.1 and 5.408.1.2:

1. Excavated soil and land-clearing debris.

2. Alternate waste reduction methods developed by working with local agencies, if diversion or recycle facilities capable of compliance with this item do not exist.

3. Demolition waste meeting local ordinance, or calculated in consideration of local recycling facilities and markets.

CALGreen Code Section 5.408.1.3: Waste stream reduction alternative. 

The combined weight of new construction disposal that does not exceed 2 pounds per square foot of building area may be deemed to meet the 65-percent minimum requirement, as approved by the enforcing agency.

CALGreen Code Section 5.408.1.4: Documentation. 

Documentation shall be provided to the enforcing agency which demonstrates compliance with Sections 5.408.1.1 through 5.480.1.3. The waste management plan shall be updated as necessary and shall be accessible during construction for examination by the enforcing agency.


1. Sample forms found in “Guide to the California Green Building Standards Code (Nonresidential)” located at: may be used to assist in documenting compliance with the waste management plan.

2. Mixed construction and demolition debris (C&D) processors can be located at the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).


Because construction waste makes up about 27 percent of the waste stream in California, this code requirement seeks to reduce the amount of waste from new construction and demolition that would be sent to landfills. An additional purpose is to encourage material resource efficiency through reuse and recycling of construction waste products.

Note: See Chapter 8 of this guide for forms and templates.

Compliance Method:

1. Determine if a local construction waste management ordinance is in place in the project jurisdiction, and comply with the more stringent requirement.

2. Determine what local hauling and recycling facilities are available in the project area to establish the most economically feasible option for recycle and/or salvage of construction debris. If there are no facilities in the area, use Exception 2 and work with the local enforcing agency to establish an acceptable alternative.

3. If applicable to the project, e.g., where walls are framed off-site or panelized wall systems are employed that reduce site waste significantly, the “waste stream alternative” may be an appropriate option. Document the weight of total waste compared to the building area. The calculation may consider the gross square footage of each floor and roof, as approved by the enforcing agency.

4. Include the following materials for recycling, as included in the project: carpet, wood, aggregate, paint, shingles, wallboard or other materials that have recyclable value. For more information on various materials, visit the C&D Publications link on the CALRecycle website, the construction waste management (CWM) worksheet provided in Chapter 8 of this guide, or recycle as required by local ordinance.

5. Indicate the selected options on the construction documents.


Plan intake: The plan reviewer should confirm on the construction documents that a construction waste management plan has been included with the plan submittal, or that Exception 2 has been submitted for enforcing agency approval.

On-site enforcement: The inspector should verify that the approved construction waste management plan or Exception 2 document is being followed. The inspector may ask for haul tags and/or reports from the contractor to verify compliance with the mandatory 65 percent waste reduction. Documentation from a waste management company or recycling facility is an acceptable form of verification.


Local enforcement agencies are strongly urged to work with their jurisdictions’ recycling coordinators to determine if local conditions warrant exceptions, and to identify appropriate means of alternative compliance.

(Excerpted from ‘Guide to the 2019 California Green Building Standards Code Nonresidential’ – Chapter 5)

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