Aspen moves to cut carbon footprint of new buildings | AspenTimes.com

Aspen moves to cut carbon footprint of new buildings

Katie ReddingThe Aspen TimesAspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN By 2030, Aspen could be a town full of carbon-neutral builders. At Mondays work session, the Aspen City Council directed its environmental staff to move forward on developing a plan to drastically curtail energy use among city buildings, and to ask the Pitkin County commissioners to do the same. The plan would be a version of the 2030 Challenge adopted by other cities, including Santa Barbara, Calif., and Surprise, Ariz. As currently suggested, it would tighten building codes each year so that by 2030, all buildings constructed in Aspen would be carbon-neutral. If adopted, all buildings constructed in 2009 would have to be 50 percent more efficient than the average Aspen house. By 2010, buildings would have to be 60 percent more efficient, and so on until 2030. Kim Peterson, the citys global warming project manager, said she and chief building official Stephen Kanipe are currently working on developing the baseline by figuring out exactly how much energy the average Aspen home currently uses. She also noted that Aspen is already on the right track, pointing out that commercial building codes already require buildings to be 30 percent more efficient than the average home. The 2030 Challenge might also require commercial buildings and large residential complexes to hand over their utility bills each month for five years to prove that they are as efficient as promised. Buildings that prove less efficient than promised will be required to improve efficiency, add renewable energy production or purchase offsets through the Canary Tag program. Peterson said she didnt expect owners of single-family homes or small, multi-unit residences to be asked to supply the city with their utility bills, as such a system could fast prove unwieldy. Auden Schendler, executive director of sustainability for Aspen Skiing Co., spoke briefly to the council in support of the 2030 Challenge, noting that many of Skicos new buildings already meet or approach the standards goals. We, as a business … dont see it as onerous, he said. In a memo to the council, Peterson noted that in order to reach the goals of the Canary Action Plan, which call for a 30 percent reduction in Aspens greenhouse gases by 2020 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050, reductions will need to be made in all sectors. However, she further noted that buildings account for approximately half of the towns greenhouse gas emissions. Without changes to its building code, Aspen cant continue to add new buildings and expect that its carbon footprint will plateau, she said. Peterson suggested that the 2030 Challenge a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose stated goal is to transform Americas building sector from a major contributor to global warming to part of the solution had already created a good mechanism for the city to use. She said Aspen could join the 2030 Challenge by adopting a form of the plan. One issue she suggested the council members examine closely was that of historical buildings. A 50 percent reduction [in emissions] for a renovated historical building is a stretch, she noted, suggesting that council either consider changing its historical renovation rules or allow exemptions for historic structures. Councilman Jack Johnson agreed that the issue should be examined.I think we need to do more research into what were going to do with historic properties … we have a lot of goals, and it requires balance, he said.Councilman Dwayne Romero suggested the city look at what other areas had done, noting that Aspen was not the only city trying to balance historic preservation with energy conservation. Peterson also noted that the city could choose not to monitor its residents utility bills, noting that enforcement wasnt a requirement of joining the 2030 Challenge. Well, it only makes sense to monitor it in some way, noted Johnson. Councilman Dwayne Romero suggested that the baseline be developed in a manner that decreased the weight of Aspens less-efficient historic buildings. If were going to adhere to a higher standard Id like to have our baseline starting at a relatively high bar, he said. kredding@aspentimes.com

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