Carbondale board OKs revisions to energy code
July 22, 2009
CARBONDALE – Carbondale trustees, on a 6-1 vote last week, approved a set of revisions to the town’s energy efficiency building code, but rejected a proposal to require renewable energy for new houses less than 3,000 square feet in size.
Town staff and energy consultants working to refine the plan had recommended mandatory photovoltaic systems or other forms of renewable energy for houses of 1,500 square feet or more.
“A majority of the revisions related to technical clarifications,” Mayor Michael Hassig said. “But the most contentious point was the proposal to lower the threshold for requiring renewable energy.
“We couldn’t get a consensus, so the compromise was to leave it where it was,” he said.
Hassig said that, in general, it is important to keep improving the town’s energy code, which was adopted by the town board two years ago.
“It’s easy to lay out policy prescriptions, but much harder to pass ordinances, and this is part of a series of things we need to do to achieve our energy efficiency goals,” he said. “At the end of day it’s going to prove a wise investment for people building homes.”
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The energy codes is the regulatory follow-up to Carbondale’s Energy and Climate Protection Plan. The plan is aimed at reducing the town’s carbon footprint by taking a variety of measures, both public and private, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It includes a goal for 30 percent of the town’s energy use to come from renewable sources by 2015.
The energy code is based on a points system where home builders can choose from 100 items in seven different categories, including the chosen site, recycling, framing and materials, indoor air quality, energy use, renewable energy applications and innovation.
The code requires that single-family houses of 3,000 square feet or less achieve at least 110 points out of a total 445 available points. Houses of more than 3,000 square feet must also generate at least 0.33 watts per square foot of the building’s electrical from a PV system.
Included among the changes that will be formally adopted at the July 28 meeting are:
• Adding 4 points for on-site greenhouses of 30 square feet or more;
• Adding 2 points for edible landscaping;
• Adding 2 points for approved air filtering systems;
• Adding 5 points for either a two-year wind power contract, or for providing on-site wind generation.
Trustee John Foulkrod, who has expressed concerns about the mandatory requirements in the code, voted against the revisions.