California Green Building Code (CALGreen) – Reduce development footprint and optimize open space

To maximize open space inside a development and to promote the use of plants whenever it is possible. The inclusion of these clauses can enhance groundwater recharge, preserve open space and wildlife habitats, and increase the carbon sink effect, which lowers greenhouse gas emissions.

CALGreen Code Section A5.104.1: Reduce development footprint and optimize open space.

Optimize open space on the project site in accordance with Section A5.104.1.1, A5.104.1.2 or A5.104.1.3.

CALGreen Code Section A5.104.1.1: Local zoning requirement in place.

Exceed the zoning’s open space requirement for vegetated open space on the site by 25 percent.

CALGreen Code Section A5.104.1.2: No local zoning requirement in place.

Provide vegetated open space area adjacent to the building equal to the building footprint area.

CALGreen Code Section A5.104.1.3: No open space required in zoning ordinance.

Provide vegetated open space equal to 20 percent in the total project site area.


The intent of this provision is to optimize the open space in a development and to encourage the utilization of vegetation within available areas. Incorporation of these provisions can result in improving ground-water recharge, open space and wildlife habitat preservation, as well as increasing the carbon sink effect, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Reference: Local zoning ordinances may have an impact on these provisions.

Compliance Method:

Provide open space for vegetation by initiating local ordinance(s), and document location and calculations on site or landscape plans.


Plan intake: The plan reviewer should confirm the construction documents for the open space area indication and calculations.

On-site enforcement: The inspector should verify that the open space represented in the construction documents has been preserved and landscaped as specified.

(Excerpted from ‘Guide to the 2022 California Green Building Standards Code Nonresidential’ – Appendix A5)

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