Berkeley Requirements for Building and Construction
Building and construction must follow Berkeley-specific requirements in addition to the California Building Standards Code.
The City of Berkeley has several locally-specific requirements for building and construction projects, on top of the California Standards Building Code. Local regulations include gas shut-off valve requirements, energy reach codes, green building codes, and a natural gas prohibition for new buildings. Some regulations apply only in specific areas of Berkeley, including for hillside fire zones, creek buffer zones, and Environmental Management Areas.
California Building Code and Berkeley’s amendments to the code
Construction and development in Berkeley must follow the California Building Standards Code and Berkeley amendments to the Code.
- Building Code (Vols 1 & 2)
- Residential Code
- Electrical Code
- Mechanical Code
- Plumbing Code
- Note that Berkeley amended this code with Gas Shut-off Valve Requirements, detailed in BMC 19.34.040
- Energy Code
- Note that Berkeley amendments to this code include the Energy Reach Code, detailed in BMC 19.36.040
- California Green Building Standards Code
- Note that Berkeley amended this code with additional Green Building Codes, detailed in BMC 19.37.040
Green building requirements
Berkeley has a number of requirements that are designed to transition our community to renewable energy, improve energy and water efficiency, and limit the amount of waste generated by construction and development. Learn more about Berkeley’s green building requirements.
Building standards in hillside fire zones
Berkeley requires that buildings in certain hillside zones use materials and construction methods that will make them resistant to wildfire. The requirements apply to fire zones 2 and 3. Look up which fire zone your property is by searching for your address in the parcel conditions map. Read the full requirements in BMC 19.28.030 and BMC 19.29.050.
Regulations for development on or near creeks
The City of Berkeley does not allow development of new buildings within 30 feet of the centerline of open creeks. Special restrictions and permit requirements apply to construction on existing buildings near open creeks. Existing structures within the 30 foot boundary can add expansions up or down, after providing verification of the open creek location and obtaining an Open Creek Permit.
To expand or build a new structure within 25 feet of the centerline of a culverted creek, the applicant/property owner must provide verification of the culverted creek location. If proposed development is within 15 feet of a culverted creek, an administrative Culverted Creek Permit, issued by the Department of Public Works, is required.
Regulations for development in Environmental Management Areas
Many areas in the City of Berkeley are known or suspected to have groundwater contamination, and are known as Environmental Management Areas (EMA). If your project is in an EMA, you may need to follow specific requirements for handling contaminated soil or water. As part of the permit review process, the Toxic Management Division will notify you if you need to make a soil or groundwater management plan. View locations of Environment Management Areas in the GIS map.