California Green Building Code (CALGreen) – Excavated soil and land clearing debris

Excavated soil means soil removed from the surface or subsurface. Land clearing debris means rocks, soils, tree remains, trees, and other vegetative matter that normally results from land clearing or land development operations for a construction project.

CALGreen Code Section 5.408.3: Excavated soil and land clearing debris.

100 percent of trees, stumps, rocks and associated vegetation and soils resulting primarily from land clearing shall be reused or recycled. For a phased project, such material may be stockpiled on site until the storage site is developed.

Exception: Reuse, either on or off site, of vegetation or soil contaminated by disease or pest infestation.


1. If contamination by disease or pest infestation is suspected, contact the County Agricultural Commissioner and follow its direction for recycling or disposal of the material.

2. For a map of known pest and/or disease quarantine zones, consult with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. ( )


The intent of this code requirement is to reduce high-volume site materials from filling up landfills as a result of clearing, and to encourage the market for nonhazardous land clearing debris. It is not intended to apply to the clearing of contaminated sites, such as for brownfield remediation.

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

Compliance Method:

1. Determine if a local construction ordinance is in place and comply with the more stringent requirement or as accepted by the local enforcing agency.

2. Look for local markets and salvage opportunity for reuse of clearing debris.

3. For phased developments and other long-term projects, the materials may be stored on site until project completion.

4. Indicate the selected method of compliance on the construction documents.

Note: Site planning that maintains existing features such as trees and rocks can reduce the amount of land clearing debris.


Plan intake: The plan reviewer should confirm that the construction documents indicate proper mitigation of land clearing debris.

On-site enforcement: The inspector should verify that the excavated soil and land clearing debris are being reused or recycled as specified on the construction documents.

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

You May Also Like