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CALGreen verification and certification SHOCKER

  • 1.  CALGreen verification and certification SHOCKER

    Posted 05-13-2014 14:11
    This message has been cross posted to the following Discussion Forums: Custom Residential Architects Network and Small Project Practitioners .
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    Okay... Have any of you received plan check corrections or implemented the 2013 CALGreen RMM forms on your documents yet?

    A friend just did a plan check with the new CALGreen measures, and the building official says they want "Installation Certificate Forms" imprinted on the drawings, along with the usual (but revised for 2013) 'Checklist' forms that list where the measures are indicated in the documents, plan check verification, and field inspection verification.

    So, I went to the State HCD website to find the relevant forms.  Link: http://hcd.ca.gov/CALGreen.html . 

    There, I found the 'RMM' forms.  Link: http://hcd.ca.gov/codes/calgreen/RMM_1.pdf .

    On the RMM forms, for each category, there's a 'Declaration Statement' which it says must be signed by 'a person with overall responsibility for the planning and design portion of the project'.  That's the Architect or Designer, presumably.  Here's what they want me to sign:

    " I certify under penalty of perjury, under the laws of the State of California, the information provided is true and correct." (italics mine)

    Uh.. Okay.  I suppose I could sign that with a straight face if I'm perfect, but I'm not.  This statement seems to go a little beyond 'Reasonable Care', wouldn't you say?  But wait... It gets better.... The next line reads:

    "I certify that the installed measures, materials, components, or manufactured devices identified on this certificate conform to all applicable codes and regulations, and the installation isconsistent with the plans and specifications approved by the enforcing agency." (italics mine)

    WHAT?  I need to CERTIFY (a powerful legal term) that the CONTRACTOR(S) have followed this complex piece of code AND my (imperfect) instruments of service to the letter, with no deviations or errors?  Are you kidding me???? 

    I've got my reservations on the first statement, but there is NO WAY I am signing that second statement.  My attorney would just shoot me in the head, on-the-spot, if he saw me sign that. <g>

    It seems to me that to be able to sign off on that second statement, I would need to be performing continuous, exhaustive inspections on the project.  That's just impossible.  I'm pretty good about keeping an eye on my projects, but this is completely over the top.

    As we all know, I don't get the final call on what gets built.. The OWNER does.  I can inform the Owner of Work not in accordance with the CD's, but it's their call to accept it or demand correction of the non-conforming Work (and also risk rejection at AHJ inspection time).  The State is assuming I have Godlike control over installations.  I could be hauled before the board because of caulk installed by somebody unskilled.  You think the tile guys are reading the sides of the caulk tubes to see if the meet the CALGreen VOC limits?   Yeah... I know... The GC is supposed to be paying attention.  Do you trust the GC that much?  I know ONE contractor I'd afford that level of trust.  ONE.

    The State says that these are 'recommended' language to be implemented by the local AHJ's.  So, I took a look around at some of the California cities to see what they had on their websites and found a different form of this certification declaration on almost every one of them.  Some had softened the language, and some brought in the signature of other parties to the project (Owner, Contractor, Special Inspector, Jurisdiction Inspector). 

    My AHJ offers zero guidance on the form of Installation Certification, so I'm a little befuddled on how to handle this.

    Look.. I'm all well and good with being 'Green' and all that stuff (I always say if you really wanted to be 'Green' you'd quit building structures...), but this is just insane; at least as far as I can see.  Signing the State's recommended language is a virtual guarantee of being in violation.

    Any opinions?  Anybody tested these declarations in a court room?  Inquiring minds want to know.

    Complexity is killing this nation.  I wish the whole country would dust off their copies of Joseph Tainter's 'Collapse of Complex Societies' and take a little reflection.  This stuff is getting absolutely nuts.  It's killing the AEC industry (which would probably suit these Agenda21 boosters just fine).

    Thanks for your time on this, folks.

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    David M. Sanders, Architect
    Orange County, CA
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  • 2.  RE:CALGreen verification and certification SHOCKER

    Posted 05-13-2014 14:12
    "Green" or "sustainable" should be never be in a contract (regardless of who builds it).
    "Green" or "sustainable" should never be legally binding (regardless of who builds it).

    You wouldn't make 'measurements' of aesthetics legally binding. It is all relative and the varying nature of building design makes benchmarking useless. Likewise, you shouldn't make 'measurements' of a building design's overall "greenness" or "sustainability" legally binding.

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    Christopher Clark Assoc. AIA
    Architectural Intern
    Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture, Inc.
    Wichita KS
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  • 3.  RE:CALGreen verification and certification SHOCKER

    Posted 05-13-2014 14:12
    Christopher,

    True, you can't measure aesthetics - agree with that 100%.

    You can measure the efficiency of light fixtures or equipment, which the CALGreen code provides boundaries on.  That's fine, and I understand it.  The voters of my state have decided they want to establish minimum standards for efficiency... So if I disagree with that (and I do), I'd need to affect that at the ballot box.

    My real problem is that the state is asking me to certify conditions I really have no reasonable control over, and threatening me with felony offenses if I make an honest mistake.  That's unacceptable.

    Still... I agree with the gestalt of your reply; The state should have no business in dictating to me how much I'm willing to pay on my utility bills.  That said, the problem with our 'product' as Architects is that it's not portable, so the government is trying to regulate not just the current Owner's behavior, but insuring certain minimum standards for any future Owners.

    I'm amenable to following the law as it exists, but am a troubled by being railroaded into serving as an enforcement mechanism.  That's not my responsibility; It's the AHJ's responsibility.  If the state wants to write a law giving me absolute authority over a project, then maybe that would change my position. <g>  It'd sure as hell change my fees!

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    David M. Sanders, Architect
    Orange County, CA
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  • 4.  RE:CALGreen verification and certification SHOCKER

    Posted 05-13-2014 14:14
    What I meant was that "sustainability" at an overall building-wide level (such as a building's LEED rating) is not an accurate indicator of anything. We can measure "sustainability" of individual components. This leads groups like USGBC to classify, for example, a 5 million square foot office building as green because it utilizes CFL light bulbs, low-flow sinks (that most people use for twice as long) and a few bike racks.

    I don't know anything about CALGreen, but I would venture to guess it measures similar sorts of components. I probably got off on somewhat of a different point there though... this first point relates to design, which is understandably in our court.

    The more important part is indeed certifying that all parts of a project were installed according to your specifications. This essentially gives you a second job--that of building inspector. It's important to note that even (third party) building inspectors generally have no liability. If they fail to notice a faulty installation that does not conform to the contract documents, it is still the installer's fault if that installation fails.

    Until such clause is removed, I would not sign or agree to that statement. If CALGreen is required by law for certain project types, I would suggest contacting your local AIA chapter leadership to see how they are addressing it. I should think someone would be aware of requirements that violate the architect's responsibilities in the standard AIA contracts.

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    Christopher Clark Assoc. AIA
    Architectural Intern
    Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture, Inc.
    Wichita KS
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  • 5.  RE:CALGreen verification and certification SHOCKER

    Posted 05-13-2014 14:14
    Chris,

    Yes, agree with your clarifications.

    Local AIA chapter has received a letter from myself, so we'll see what happens next.

    Appreciate your chiming in to add weight to the discussion, which you certainly did.

    Best wishes on you soon-to-come licensure!  Sounds like you'll be a solid addition to our ranks.

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    David M. Sanders, Architect
    Orange County, CA
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  • 6.  RE:CALGreen verification and certification SHOCKER

    Posted 05-13-2014 14:13

    David

    That is most unfortunate for CA architects. Firstly, this is a gross overstepping of jurisdiction protocols for design professionals. Secondly, this could not be enforced or required of the architect in his role as design practitioner. Thirdly, CA AIA group has to jump on this immediately and with resolve to stamp it out. This is  why CA AIA exists and it doesn't matter how green they are, this is authoritarian bureaucracy at its worst. 

    Allen  E Neyman
    Rockville, MD
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  • 7.  RE:CALGreen verification and certification SHOCKER

    Posted 05-13-2014 14:13
    Allen,

    Thanks for your support.

    Hear that CA AIA???  Anybody seeing this??

    Like I said in the OP, the specific language varies among jurisdictions, but based on the State's recommended language, the intent of the law is clear; They want to make the Architect responsible for enforcement of the law.  That's the AHJ's job, not mine.  My only legal mandate is to follow the law with reasonable care.  I have no power to exercise the absolute authority they are asking me to assert.

    >>>This is  why CA AIA exists and it doesn't matter how green they are, this is authoritarian bureaucracy at its worst. 

    Yes.  I agree 100%.  This one just drove me over the edge.

    Thanks for your support on this matter.  Maybe someone will pay attention and sort this out.  If not, I guess I'll need to start calling my legislators personally.

    I'm flat-out not signing on that second clause.  I'm not fully comfortable signing off on the first one, either, unless they add 'to my knowledge' in there somewhere.  That I could accept.

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    David M. Sanders, Architect
    Orange County, CA
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  • 8.  RE:CALGreen verification and certification SHOCKER

    Posted 05-13-2014 14:14
    Those forms and such as it is written applies to architects, building designers, interior designers, etc. That is a GOOD reason why I don't want to practice building design in California. 

    It's just INSANE. As a building designer, it would be a miracle that I would have remotely the level of control over a project that they assume I and architects, interior designers, and engineers would have. They got to be kidding. I would have to be the contractor and do the entire work by myself with no aid of anyone to remotely have that degree of control. Chances of building a house let alone any high-rise by myself would be nearly impossible.

    I wouldn't sign any of that, period. I'd tell them, I'm not certifying as if I am God and have total control over everything.

    It sounds like someone wrote this legislation with no inclination or clue how things work in real world of architecture/building design/engineering/construction/etc.

    The way it is written and California's case laws regarding perjury being fickle and contradictory... there is no way you can comply as a human being. The case laws are double standard and so convoluted that virtually all the laws in California should be repealed and replaced with a whole new set of laws that are much more clear cut and not totally contradictory. Whoever, wrote the law must have been an attorney that seems to be looking at ways to throw architects, designers, etc. into jail.

    I wouldn't be concerned about the terms "Green" and "Sustainable" as long as there is a clear definition with quantifiable measures that is being used in the context of the law and codes. Even though there is many definitions applied to the term, it is the applicable & codified definition that matters for the given context. What definition California is applied to the words "Green" / "Sustainable"... that is the definition we need to work from for the this CalGreen forms. We don't need to concern ourselves with all the definitions applied to these two words as they may exist in the profession... as much. Only the legal definition provided for. 

    General principle of perjury in California as with all states is a matter of knowingly and/or intentionally stating something that is not true. That is called lying. Unknowing and/or unintentionally stating something false is not lying and is not perjury. Otherwise, everyone that is a witness in court would be in jail or fined because there is always some inaccuracy of fact because as humans we can only abstract from the world. What really is is more than any extent of effort we can apply ever. The only facts is raw data with no human interpretation (abstraction) on it. However, I would not sign something if it expects me to have absolute perfection and that they would throw me in jail for perjury if there was any error or failure of perfection of installation or otherwise where it results in something not quite absolutely perfect.

    No thank you. 


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    Richard Balkins, Assoc. AIA
    Building Designer / owner
    Richard W.C. Balkins, Building Designer
    Astoria, OR
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