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Thread: Regulating energy efficient new residential construction

  1. #1
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    Regulating energy efficient new residential construction

    I'm updating a zoning ordinance for a rural township. And even though they maybe issue two new residential building permits a year, they asked if there could be a requirement in the zoning ordinance that new construction has to be energy efficient.

    Seems to me this would purely be a building code issue. But, I wanted to run it past the mighty cyburbia brain, to see if any of you have ever heard of or seen regulations like this in a zoning ordinance.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    (for now) Frozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    When I was on the Plan Commission for the Village of Oak Park, IL we were revising the submission and review requirements for Planned Developments. One of the requirements is mandatory that each planned development shall at a minimum achieve LEED Certification as defined by the USGBC (U. S. Green Building Council). I personally disagreed with it, but it got approved anyways.

    You're right that this is building code issue.
    Last edited by mendelman; 04 Nov 2009 at 5:25 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Agreed with MM. This is a building code issue. California's Title 24 in the UBC has some great energy efficiency ideas.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I believe that the best and more appropriate way would be to address it in the Building Code

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I do think that most of the LEED standards relate to the building code, but LEED-Neighborhood does not. You could either change your zoning code, or create a floating zone, to require LEED- Neighborhood -- most of those requirements have to do with site planning and transportation issues.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian transguy's avatar
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    I've never understood why anyone would require LEED certification as part of the subdivision/zoning approval process. LEED (ignoring neighborhoods) can only be granted after the project is built. If LEED certification is required as part of the approval process, are you really going to tell them they can't occupy a brand new building? My municipality certainly doesn't have the political will to accomplish this. I'm a firm believer that if you want energy efficiency, incorporate it into your building code. While there are some really good parts of LEED, there are also some issues (like the fact that the latest results show that LEED certified projects are simply not performing as they were originally designed for).

    While not nearly as far along as LEED, or as notable, I would recommend looking at http://www.icleiusa.org/star for a potential on how local government regulation will be shaped in the future.
    Much work remains to be done before we can announce our total failure to make any progress.

  7. #7
    (for now) Frozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I agree with you transguy. I felt it was putting the cart before the horse, but since LEED is the new buzz word in Planning, some people believe it must be incorporated now or their little fiefdom will not be cool enough.

    Plus, I don't see the logical land use nexus - What does a building's level of energy use have to do with use of land and interaction with neighbors?
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by southsideamy View post
    I do think that most of the LEED standards relate to the building code, but LEED-Neighborhood does not. You could either change your zoning code, or create a floating zone, to require LEED- Neighborhood -- most of those requirements have to do with site planning and transportation issues.
    Certainly following the IBC will get you a long way to getting your building code where it needs to be, esp if you are in a rural area. That is: scary faddish buzzwords are harder to get in the code than the IBC standards.

    And IMHO -ND has a long way to go to make it simple and a good compliment to the building envelope. I am all for the -ND concept, but in a rural area? Come now. How many rural areas are going to accept this in the next 5-10 years?? 10% Write some code that will get accepted now.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian transguy's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    And IMHO -ND has a long way to go to make it simple and a good compliment to the building envelope. I am all for the -ND concept, but in a rural area? Come now. How many rural areas are going to accept this in the next 5-10 years?? 10% Write some code that will get accepted now.
    I would agree. Also, what I have seen (limited amount) from LEED ND is that it is very heavily weighted to urban infill locations. I've even heard some discussion wondering if a rural location would be able to meet the pre-requisites.

    http://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile.aspx?DocumentID=2845

    (see pre-req 1 under smart locations)
    Much work remains to be done before we can announce our total failure to make any progress.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
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    LEED - site vs. building

    As I understand it, LEED includes the word "environmental" in the title.

    Building construction methods - sure, building code.

    Site planning and design - I think that zoning codes and comp. plans can address those issues. Think previous/grass parking requirements/permissions, requiring certain percentage of required landscaping to be native/drought tolerant, requiring bicycle parking/storage areas and related shower facilities.

    From the USGBC website:


    Sustainable Sites
    Choosing a building's site and managing that site during construction are important considerations for a projectís sustainability. The Sustainable Sites category discourages development on previously undeveloped land; minimizes a building's impact on ecosystems and waterways; encourages regionally appropriate landscaping; rewards smart transportation choices; controls stormwater runoff; and reduces erosion, light pollution, heat island effect and construction-related pollution.

    Locations & Linkages
    The LEED for Homes rating system recognizes that much of a home's impact on the environment comes from where it is located and how it fits into its community. The Locations & Linkages credits encourage homes being built away from environmentally sensitive places and instead being built in infill, previously developed and other preferable sites. It rewards homes that are built near already-existing infrastructure, community resources and transit, and it encourages access to open space for walking, physical activity and time spent outdoors.
    At times like this, you have to ask yourself, "WWJDD?"
    (What Would Jimmy Durante Do?)

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