Waiting for a green light | SteamboatToday.com

Waiting for a green light

Sustainable building practices progam nears adoption in City Council

Brandon Gee

— Green building practices will be a major point of discussion when the Steamboat Springs City Council meets tonight.

In a joint meeting with the Routt County Board of Commissioners, officials will present a proposed green building program for the Routt County Regional Building Department that ultimately may mandate environmentally sensitive construction.

Later in the meeting, council will consider the first reading of an ordinance that would make sustainable design a higher public benefit priority for projects at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area. Council members also will consider a development plan and final development plan for Inspiritu Verde (translated to “inspired green”), a proposed 4,711-square-foot, mixed-use development at the northeast corner of Fourth and Oak streets. The project, which would replace two yellow, stucco duplexes built in 1949 with two new buildings, aims to be the first in the city to earn a “gold” Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Senior city planner Bob Keenan and Ted Allen, Routt County’s assistant building department official, coordinated creation of the proposed Green Building Program, which was aided by a $25,250 state grant. Although tonight’s presentation is simply to introduce the city’s and county’s elected officials to the program, Keenan said an energy efficient building code and program needs to be adopted by the two governments by the end of the year.

“It’s been almost a year since we’ve been in front of them,” Keenan said. “As part of the grant program, we have to adopt a green building program by the end of the year to complete the contract.”

The proposed program – which, as drafted, applies only to new residential construction – includes provisions that would scrutinize a building’s foundation, landscaping, exterior finish, insulation, plumbing and appliances, among other qualities. Some of the provisions are proposed to be mandatory while others would be encouraged through incentives such as a tiered certification level similar to LEED’s. However, none of the provisions would become mandatory immediately.

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“What we’re proposing is a mandatory review, voluntary compliance period for the first year,” said Keenan, who said this approach would encourage people to go through the program and allow the building department to work out any kinks in the process. “It will also give : building professionals time to acclimate to the process.”

Keenan said similar programs exist in Eagle County, Aspen, Carbondale, Telluride and Boulder.

“It’s new ground for Routt County, but there’s definitely a handful of other programs on the Western Slope,” he said.

City Council President Loui Antonucci said governments “have to get proactive” in addressing environmental impacts, but he is concerned about Keenan and Allen’s estimate that the program would add 3 percent to the total construction cost of a home.

“The good thing is it makes the house more affordable to live in,” Antonucci said.

Keenan and Allen’s staff report also estimates the program would require the hiring of a new building department employee to administer, at a time when city and county government are trying to cut costs. Antonucci said with the current slowdown in construction activity, it might be possible to implement the program without additional personnel in the immediate future.

“We might be able to ease this in,” he said.

John Shively, of Shively Construction, said the Yampa Valley Trades Association, of which he is president, is waiting to see final documents and has not taken a position on the proposed Green Building Program.

“I think it will certainly improve the quality of some of the homes in our valley,” Shively said. “But I think there’s some issues there that need to be resolved before it goes mandatory.”

According to a schedule laid out by Keenan and Allen, the program would go mandatory Jan. 1, 2010, and officials would spend next year developing a similar program for multi-family and commercial buildings.

– To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210 or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

Agenda

– 4 p.m. Council convenes as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority to discuss public improvement projects at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area

– 5:20 p.m. Council convenes as the Steamboat Springs Liquor License Authority to consider a new liquor license for the Ghost Ranch Saloon

– 5:30 p.m. Joint meeting with the Routt County Board of Commissioners to discuss a proposed Green Building Program and receive an update from Vision 2030

– 6:30 p.m. Steamboat 700 pre-application review update; resolution approving an intergovernmental agreement between the city and Routt County for the provision of building department services

– 7 p.m. Public comment; second reading of an ordinance waiving provisions of the Community Development Code for the purpose of providing access to the proposed Sunlight subdivision; Planning Commission referrals; first reading of an ordinance reprioritizing public benefits for developments at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area; development plan application to construct a temporary events tent in the Knoll Parking Lot; development plan and final development plan applications for two mixed-use buildings at the corner of Fourth and Oak streets; City Council and staff reports

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

When: 4 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Call: City offices at 879-2060 for more information