Building in Eagle County will get greener |

Building in Eagle County will get greener

Melanie Wong
Vail CO, Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” New homes have been required to be environmentally friendly for a few years, but now Eagle County wants commercial building to be green, too.

The county recently adopted a new Eco-Build code for commercial projects to promote energy-efficient structures, use of environmentally friendly materials and reduce environmental impacts during construction.

The code gives builders points for different environmentally friendly measures, such as using pine beetle kill or having covered bicycle storage. A project must have a certain number of points to be approved, or pay a fee if they do not meet the requirements.

If a project exceeds a certain number of points, the builder can get up to a $5,000 rebate on building permit fees.

Before, there were not very specific energy-efficiency guidelines for commercial builders, said County Eco-Build Specialist Adam Palmer.

Regulations for residential projects have been in place since 2003 and were updated in 2006, but the county has never had a commercial policy.

“This is groundbreaking in the sense that no one has ever really adopted a green building code (for commercial projects,)” Palmer said. “And actually, commercial projects use significantly more amounts of energy than residential buildings.”

Current projects that will have to follow the new code include the Vines at Vail, the West End in Edwards and Vail Resort’s condominium project at Arrowhead.

The new codes will not change plans for the West End project, a mix of shopping center and condominiums in Edwards, said Brian Bair, the project’s developer.

“We were already planning to build it green, so it didn’t change our plans much,” he said.

The West End’s “green” measures will include a recycling program and using energy-efficient appliances.

Other than in Boulder, Bair said he has not seen many other communities with environmental standards this high.

“I think it’s a good idea, though, and I commend the county for passing that,” he said.

When the residential codes were created, many developers and builders complained, but now, most of the development community seems on board with the commercial guidelines, Palmer said.

“I think it’s something the entire building industry saw coming,” he said.

Environmentally friendly building may cost developers a little more, but some say it has its own payoffs, too.

“I think the building community is finding that building eco-friendly is something people like, and that they can market,” County Commissioner Peter Runyon said

David Viele, president of J.L. Viele Construction in Vail, said he has seen more clients thinking about environmental building and asking questions about what measures the company takes.

“I think the valley attracts a fairly green-minded individual. We definitely are starting to see a lot more clients sensitive to that,” he said.

Viele Construction will build the commercial center at Eagle River Station in Eagle, as well as the Tower residences in Lionshead.

Green building has become more popular in recent years, partly because it has become more cost-effective for builders, Viele said.

Supply and demand makes the process cheaper than it used to be, and spending a more money for a green building can save money in the future, he said.

For example, his company tries to use local materials, which cuts down on transportation costs, he said.

Efficient insulation, heating and cooling systems can last longer and be cheaper to run, too.

“We’re trying to build buildings that have a useful life, with systems that can be there a long time and be efficient,” he said.

Staff writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or

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