Letter: Energy-efficient codes are city priority

Regarding Mr. Wickes’ letter “Write energy efficiency into building codes” of the July 22 Aspen Times, we couldn’t agree more on the significance of energy efficiency. Still, there are a few points to clarify. The Aspen Municipal Code reflects the need for energy efficiency as it does adopt the International Energy Conservation Code, which is developed and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and used throughout the country as a standard for buildings and building systems. The DOE estimates that the administration and enforcement of modern energy code provisions save U.S. citizens and businesses billions of dollars every year in electric, gas and water bills.

Aspen and Pitkin County energy codes pioneered the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program which has stimulated the production of on-site renewable energy through photovoltaics, solar hot water systems, and ground source heat pumps. These systems are encouraged to be installed to offset the energy use for snowmelt, spa, and pool installations. Homeowner and business on-site renewables are not limited to offsetting only installations. They are allowed to install beyond the offset or outside of the program. If the homeowner or business chooses not to offset their snowmelt, spa, or pool installation, payments are collected for the Community Office of Resource Efficiency. CORE is an environmental nonprofit that offers rebates and grants for energy efficient projects and on-site renewables. In 2007, REMP won the Innovations in American Government Award from Harvard and is a model to other governments throughout the country.

We appreciate the intention of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. It is a voluntary program and most recently the Aspen Valley hospital, the Aspen Middle School, and the 127 West Hopkins Aspen Skiing Company housing project were all awarded LEED certifications.

The city’s Canary Initiative is an aggressive program to reduce Aspen’s carbon footprint. REMP is one of many initiative’s related to the built environment that have helped reduce carbon emissions from our buildings by 11 percent since 2004 (the year of Aspen’s first community-wide greenhouse gas inventory).

Aspen and Pitkin County building departments are reviewing the newest addition of the International Energy Conservation Code for adoption in early 2016. We invite the public to be part of the conversation and welcome input that will continue to keep Aspen at the forefront of innovation in energy code development and administration.

As Aspen works diligently as a government and community, energy efficient buildings are a top priority. We will continue to innovate and create programs and codes that support our long-term goals of reducing emissions from a 2004 baseline study by 30 percent by 2020 and 80 percent below 2004 levels by 2050. Efficient building codes are an integral component to getting there.

Stephen Kanipe

Building official, city of Aspen

Chris Menges

Canary Initiative, city of Aspen