City takes step toward green building |

City takes step toward green building

Council set to consider pilot program for developers

Tom Ross

City Council is set to consider a new ordinance tonight that has been working its way through the public process for almost the same amount of time needed to construct a modest green-built home.

Council will be asked to approve on first reading an ordinance adopting a voluntary green building pilot program that has been in development since October 2006.

The ordinance, if formalized before the end of the year, would establish a green building checklist that would be attached to every building permit application for residential projects being planned in the city of Steamboat Springs. Routt County is working on a parallel path toward adopting a similar regulation.

Senior City Planner Bob Keenan and Ted Allen, Routt County’s assistant building department official, have been coordinating the proposed Green Building Program in consultation with Architectural Energy and What’s Working. The program is modeled after existing programs in Eagle County, Aspen, Carbondale, Telluride and Boulder. It allows contractors to consult a checklist of green building practices and choose the ones that fit their plans in order to score enough points to be certified as green.

The items on the checklist include some practices area home builders already are putting into practice, such as using oriented strand board (OSB) for subfloors. Because OSBs use chips of wood pressed together, they generate far less waste than traditional plywood.

There also is a provision that awards points for using timber milled locally from beetle-killed pines.

Keenan said the voluntary pilot program is a step toward encouraging building professionals to adopt green practices in advance of imposing a mandatory program.

“The best strategy is to involve the contractor, architect or draftsman, mechanical engineer and structural engineer from the beginning,” Keenan said. “Green building is a whole-systems approach.”

By adopting a pilot program, the Routt County Regional Building Department will have time to work out the details of implementing a full-on green building program. Keenan and Allen said Monday that building inspectors have not been trained in inspecting new residences for green building practices. For the first year, he said, staffers would help contractors with questions about the checklist, but it would be up to builders to decide whether to participate.

“In our view, it’s a pretty rigorous program,” he said.

The trial period also would give building professionals time to adjust to the process.

Members of the Yampa Valley Construction Trades Association were consulted closely during the drafting of the pilot program, Keenan said. They included Steamboat contractors Mike Roberts, Jamie Letson, Sarah Fox (who also is a member of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission) and John Shively.

– To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail

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