Chula Vista Takes On Global Warming
The Chula Vista City Council is poised to adopt new energy code standards at its October 20th council meeting that will require new construction to exceed the state’s energy code standards by 15% – 20% in an effort to combat global warming. California already boasts the highest energy standards in the nation with homes and businesses nearly 40% more energy efficient.
According to the city’s own analysis, the mandate to exceed the state’s energy code will add several thousand dollars in costs per house at a time when the building industry is in the grips of the worst decline in generations.
This comes on the heels of the city’s early adoption of the state’s Green Building Codes that aren’t scheduled to become effective statewide until July 2011. That code includes a requirement that new construction reduce indoor water usage by 20% over current practices. The technologies to achieve this water savings are just beginning to hit the market and the price tag is still on the high side for these new products.
The city’s move is counter to their previous efforts to stimulate construction activity by implementing development impact fee deferrals. BIA Chief Executive Officer Borre Winckel stated that “the added cost of requiring development to exceed the state’s energy code completely erases any cost savings achieved with fee deferrals.” Winckel added that the building industry is supportive of incentive-based cost neutral approaches to green building and energy efficiency, however the City of Chula Vista is pursuing costly mandates over incentives.
Some fear, including Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox, that adding between $5,000 and $7,000 in additional cost per house will make the city uncompetitive when it comes to new construction. Builders fear that the additional costs will not be readily absorbed by the market, leaving Chula Vista stuck on the sidelines as builders look to cities that are actively creating incentives to stimulate new construction and jobs.
This helps neither the building industry nor the City of Chula Vista, which is deeply mired in debt and struggling to pay their bills as a result of the collapse in the building industry and the economy.
The BIA is advocating for a more flexible cost-neutral approach with options for compliance. Chula Vista should turn its energy saving efforts to the older, less energy efficient homes and buildings in the city where more tangible and cost effective savings can be made. Over time the building industry will continue to improve upon the energy efficiency of their buildings, but mandating an aggressive and costly leap forward on energy efficiency in the midst of a building industry depression is the wrong approach.
This entry was posted on Friday, October 9th, 2009 at 3:41 pm and is filed under CEO Connection. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.