Friday, April 29, 2011

Energy standards on the rise

Amended energy code in effect May 2


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Local builders will need to go above and beyond national energy codes starting Monday, when a stricter energy standard approved by the Blaine County commissioners in February goes into effect.

In addition to adopting the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code as required by state law, the county passed standards requiring homes to be 15 to 75 percent more energy-efficient than does national code.

Opponents argued that stricter codes would raise construction costs, stifle development and drive second-home owners out of the county. In an attempt to mitigate additional costs, which the code estimates would run 2 percent of total construction costs, Commissioner Larry Schoen suggested lowering the county's building permit fees. A board discussion on lowering fees is pending.

The stricter standards, known as the BuildSmart amendments, require most new construction to comply with certain Home Energy Rating System scores, which determine how energy-efficient a home is. A copy of the code is at www.blainecounty.org, under the land use and building services tab under the title "BuildSmart Amendments."

The site also provides information on the latest energy-efficiency state and federal tax rebates.

County Building Official Bill Dyer said the code would only apply to building permit applications submitted on or after May 2.

Dyer said county staff have held several meetings with the building community about the new standards. He said code-related questions will be answered "over the counter" at the Building Department office in Hailey.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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