Code green in Aspen
February 12, 2004
The city of Aspen made the right decision Tuesday when it raised the “green” bar for the affordable housing planned on its Burlingame property.
The City Council agreed that the project, which will add at least 225 new homes to Aspen’s affordable housing stock, needs to score exceptionally high in the rating system used in the city’s efficient building standards program. The city will require the buildings and homes to score at least 145 points, well above the 70-point threshold required of affordable housing under the program rules.
The council also agreed the homes should meet standards set in the federal Department of Energy’s Building America Program. According to information given to City Council Tuesday night, homes built to Building America standards use 40 to 70 percent less energy than conventional homes.
The city’s actions will add to the cost of construction, but higher energy efficiency combined with the use of environmentally friendly building materials and methods provides a community benefit that is worth the added cost.
Too often, local governments, looking to save taxpayers a penny or two, opt for “less expensive” designs and cut corners during the construction of public buildings, including affordable housing, where the money will be recouped after the units are sold. In the long run, such buildings cost much more than the pennies saved at the front end.
This community should take pride both in the city’s decision this week and the Aspen Skiing Co.’s announcement last week that it would employ innovative energy-saving construction and design techniques in its Base Village development.
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In an editorial last week, we urged the Skico and the town of Snowmass Village to make Base Village even greener than promised so far. With Burlingame, the city needs to do everything it can so the homes are truly affordable ” not just to the community’s lawyers and doctors, but to its teachers and EMTs as well.