Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Build Better Program to become mandatory?

Hailey gives exemptions for additions and remodels

Express Staff Writer

For two years, the city of Hailey’s voluntary Build Better program has provided extensive guidelines for building more energy-efficient homes. The program calls for at least a 10 percent improvement in energy efficiency above the 2009 International Building Code requirements.

The agenda for the council’s Jan. 7 meeting includes a public hearing on a proposal to make the Build Better program mandatory for new construction. The council decided not to include remodels or additions in a new ordinance following input from Councilman Pat Cooley during a meeting Monday.

Cooley, a Woodside subdivision resident, pointed out that older, two-by-four-inch wood-framed homes in Woodside would have to increase wall widths to 6 inches during remodels, under the program.

“There are hundreds of homes like this, “ Cooley said. “There are no incentives for remodels under this program.”

Based on data supplied by Sustainability Coordinator Mariel Platt, the Build Better program’s basic requirements would cost an additional $1,400 for construction of a $300,000 home. 

Platt’s data indicate that improving energy efficiency 10 percent above the 2009 code would produce energy cost savings of $139 per home per year. At current energy costs, the initial cost for building under the Build Better program would be paid back in eight to 10 years.

Hailey builder Thad Farnham, one of three builders to complete homes under the voluntary Build Better program, told the City Council on Monday that it was “pretty easy” to use the guidelines.

“It’s totally flexible,” Farnham said. “There’s a list of ways to get points. Some of them cost nothing at all.”

Blaine County adopted a similar ordinance in January 2011 that calls for 15 to 75 percent more energy efficiency than is in the current code. Ketchum adopted its own green building code in May, under the National Green Building Standard.

Sustainable building codes typically call for energy efficiency standards higher than those mandated by the federal and state governments. They are enacted to reduce emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, reduce pollution and conserve energy resources.

These codes require third-party verification of designs and completed buildings for energy efficiency, including blower tests to check for air leakage.

In other Hailey news:

The council changed the building permit expiration period from 540 days to 180 days, eliminated fees for window replacement inspections and removed security deposits for final building permit inspections.

Tony Evans:

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